Elisabetta Biavati has used Cannabis for about two years now as a treatment and since three years she has administered a group on Facebook “Dolore e Cannabis Terapeutica”(“Pain and Therapeutic Cannabis”) in which she gathers the requests of consumers/patients and which has soon been transformed in an actual Comity, standing up for the rights and reasons of all those patients who today find relief and therapeutic solutions in Cannabis.
We talked for a while with Elisabetta and asked her some questions about the current situation in Italy.
Let’s part from the current situation; is there any Cannabis available for therapeutic use? Has it returned at the Chemists’? In the last months we often read about supply difficulties.
Unfortunately the Medical Cannabis situation in Italy is really painful; small supplies did arrive, however they were not able to cover all the prescriptions on the waiting lists of territorial chemists and hospitals.
The major issue is that they are not able to ensure the therapeutic continuity we need. From last May we have started to denounce these absences in products, firstly with regards to Bedrolite and Bediol and in June the first signs of lacking Bedrocan, ending up with all the others.
Since when have you been using Medical Cannabis? When the supplies run out, what happens?
I have used therapeutic cannabis for about two years now; a specific therapeutic programme with Bedica and Bedrocan. It has been for practically two months now since I finished my therapy and I do not have any guarantee of therapeutic continuity.
All this has brought about a serious deterioration in my state of health, from absolute zero pain-control to collateral anorexia caused by the use of anti-epileptic drugs, up to a neuropathy affecting the intestine as well and which, not being under control, causes major weight loss due to severe dysentery.
This came to such a point that just in these days they had to put me on parental nutrition. This might not be a life-saver certainly, but it always depends on what a person means by “quality of my life”. For me this isn’t life…
On Facebook you are one of the administers of the group “Con la Cannabis mi curo”(I cure myself with Cannabis); which are the topics majorly heard from users/patients?
I created the group Dolore e Cannabis Terapeutica (Pain and Therapeutic Cannabis) in August 2016 and after that also the group Con la Cannabis mi curo (I cure myself with Cannabis), which doesn’t exist anymore and has been absorbed by the first group.
The exact reason I opened this group was that I wanted others to avoid all the chaos I experienced when looking for physicians, hospitals and information about this therapy; it has now become a Comity representing its own needs to the public opinion.
The arguments majorly discussed are surely where to go, the prescribing physicians, which are the therapies mostly used and which are the side effects. We exchange experiences and information and often we support and help each other.
The next government will most probably get back on the argument “Cannabis” and deal with it: from your point of view, which are the priorities to work on most urgently?
Without any doubt the right to get the treatment without costs on the entire national territory covered by the National Health Service, as per the Budget Law 2018, proceed with the Medical Cannabis Law in order to create the possibility to do serious research in Italy, that there will be new individuals who can cultivate cannabis in a medical and controlled way, that the number of diseases treated with cannabis will increase and that the medical community will be prepared and educated.
In the past you wrote to Minister Lorenzin, what did he reply?
In the past we did two specific things: a formal notice in the name of almost a hundred of patients regarding the violation of Article 32 of the Constitution, as we weren’t guaranteed the right to be cured nor medical continuity, which is an extremely important factor in whichever medical chronic pain therapy! and to which we have never received a formal reply!!!!
Following an open letter to Minister Lorenzin to which Doctor Germana Apuzzo has replied, basically saying to wait until they would have made a public announcement, authorized cultivations to the SCFM (Chemical Pharmaceutical Military Establishment) and commence importations….and we are still waiting!
A wish for the future?
As the Comitato Pazienti Cannabis Medica (Comity of Medical Cannabis Patients), we are operating in many regions and can see a great interest to collaborate, so our wish is that we will all move towards a cultural and social openness regarding this therapy, that the idea of it being a drug will come to an end and that we, sick people, are allowed to cure ourselves without financial sacrifices, we are not able to bear, without the anxiety and the fear generated by the lack of certainty of being able to continue the therapy the next month, week or day!!!!!
Interview by Giuseppe Cantelmi