Italian drug-reform activists recently scored a major win after the Lower House’s justice committee approved a reform that allows the small-scale cultivation of cannabis at home. Aside from allowing individuals to grow up to four female plants at home, the reform also increases the penalties associated with dealing in and trafficking cannabis and raised the maximum sentence from six to 10 years. The reform, which was introduced by Italian MP Riccardo Magi, means Italy is now one of the first nations in Europe to decriminalize the cultivation of cannabis for personal use.
Although this is quite a significant achievement, pro-cannabis activists still have a long way to go. The first attempt to decriminalize cannabis was back in 1993 when the Italian Radical Party, helmed by Marco Pannella, promoted a referendum that successfully decriminalized penalties for the personal use of cannabis. However, efforts to legalize or at least decriminalize cannabis in the succeeding years were unsuccessful until 2007 when Italy legalized cannabis for medical use, becoming one of the first countries in Europe to do so.
Presently, around 6 million Italians use cannabis recreationally, despite the fact that the nation has outlawed adult-use cannabis. Predictably, cannabis prohibition in Italy has followed the same pattern with countries such as America, indirectly funneling billions of Euros into the criminal enterprises that control the black market drug trade, overwhelming the country’s criminal justice system, and crowding prisons with minor drug offenders. Furthermore, prohibition has led to an influx of uncontrolled and in many cases substandard cannabis that presents a significant risk to public health.
But with this new reform, Italians will be able to grow their own cannabis at home without any repercussions. This comes a week after several political parties and pro-cannabis organizations launched a ballot campaign to decriminalize domestic cultivation and do away with penalties for personal use by removing several articles of narcotics law that enforce cannabis penalties. Proponents will have to collect at least 500,000 verified electronic signatures by the end of the month for the ballot campaign to proceed. They currently have an estimated 100,000 signatures, and once the group can collect all 500,000 signatures, the Supreme Court of Cassation will verify their authenticity.
If the signatures are considered valid and the Constitutional Court finds that the referendum question is in line with the country’s constitution, the Italian president can then issue a decree to set up the date of the referendum when Italian citizens can vote on whether or not they want to decriminalize personal cultivation and possession of cannabis.
The discussions on legalizing cannabis in different jurisdictions across Europe could be of interest to internationally focused marijuana firms such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) as new markets mean additional markets to expand into.
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