The Italian army has unveiled its first successful marijuana crop.
On Thursday, the Corriere della Sera news website published photos of the military-run pharmaceutical plant in Florence where the cannabis is being grown in a secure room. The site also houses drying and packing facilities and is expected to churn out 220 pounds of pot annually, according to the BBC.
“The aim of the operation is to provide users with a product that is not always easily available on the market, at a more competitive price,” Colonel Antonio Medica, the director of the facility, told Italian news outlets.
The initiative was announced last September as a means to drive down costs of medical marijuana and undercut street dealers.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Italy since 2007, but its prohibitive costs have deterred most from participating in the program. Because there have been no licensed producers of medicinal pot in the country, those who do have prescriptions have to purchase their cannabis from abroad.
According to RT.com, prices can reach up to 40 euros ($45) per gram for imported medical marijuana, which has led many patients to seek out street dealers. The government hopes to take away business from these illegal sources with this new grow operation.
“We’re aiming to lower the price to under 15 euros ($17), maybe even around 5 euros ($5.60) per gram,” Medica said.