Will Italy Legalise Cannabis Next? There Are Signs It Will

Italy is poised to join the league of legal cannabis countries this year.

Italy is poised to join the league of legal cannabis countries this year. src

What's Causing the Recent Frenzy in Italy's Cannabis Space?

Italy is renowned for playing catch up to the rest of Europe when it comes to drug regulations. However, with the recent shake ups within the country's government, Italy seems poised to become one of the first European countries to legalize marijuana. A series of legislative reforms, judicial rulings, and change of power in the federal government, all coupled with increasingly shifting public sentiments, is setting the country on a certain course for marijuana legalization. It's now only a matter of time.

Lawmakers are set to deliberate on a new marijuana law come July 25, a positive outcome of which will hold immense significance across the length and breath of the country  and far across Europe.

  

Pro-Legalization Government Reforms

The proposed bill will decriminalize the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for recreational use. Consumers will also be allowed to grow up to 5 plants at home for personal use. Licences will also be issued for the production, sale, and distribution of cannabis products and to cannabis clubs with up to 50 members. In terms of restrictions, the bill proposes that public possession and use be restricted to just 5g per outing. Other restrictions include a ban on the importation and exportation of cannabis and driving under the influence.

With the exit of the far-right anti-legalization government, the bill looks set for a smooth sail in the current Parliament. Experts believe that the pro-legalization coalition in Parliament has the numbers in their favor. The very fact that a debate for legalization will hold on the floor of the Parliament is a breakthrough in itself.

The details of the bill were hashed out by members of the Intergruppo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a cross-party coalition of senators and representatives spearheaded by Senator Benedetto Della Vedova. The bill has amassed endorsements from over 294 representatives and many top government figures including Francesco Curcio and Franco Roberti, the Chief Prosecutors of the Anti-Mafia and Anti-Terrorism Offices, have also endorsed the bill.

However, cannabis dealers in the country don't need to wait for the bill to be passed before opening up stores across streets around the country. A law that allows for the sale of low-THC varieties of cannabis already creates a leeway for dealers to trade a wide variety of strains in the open across the country.

To boot, the Supreme Court threw open the legal gateway to domestic cultivation last December.

 

Amplifying Pro-Legalization Sentiments

Prohibitionist policies have been nothing short of a spectacle of failure in the public eye, and most people now agree that a change in policy approach is necessary. People are particularly wary about the criminal organizations that are feeding off the black markets. They reckon that bringing the black market under regulation through legalization can help reduce, not increase, the harm and hazards posed by the drug trade to society.

Recent polls by IPSOS Public Affairs show that as many as 60% of Italians support policy changes that impose some sort of taxes as well regulatory standards on the production and distribution of cannabis. About 83% have completely lost faith in the current prohibition regime.

Additionally, some 70% believe that the country should adopt a model of marijuana regulation similar to that of  Colorado.

Pro legalization groups across the country have been making inroads across key voter bases in the country, canvassing for support for the newly proposed bill.

 

A National Reform with International Repercussions

Europe's cannabis regulatory landscape

A legalization outcome will have a tremendous impact on Europe's cannabis regulatory landscape. src

The frenzy in the country's marijuana space is reminiscent of the eve of medical legalization in countries like Canada, Israel, Mexico, and Thailand. A positive outcome would put Italy in a new limelight on the global stage, creating an additional engine for the economy while raising the country's ranking among top medical and recreational tourism destinations.

The impact of the new bill will resonate far beyond the shores of the country, emboldening activists across European countries from the UK to Germany, Belgium, and France. It will be a move that will instigate more public debate and bump legalization up the list of parliamentary priorities across Europe. It could also set the ball rolling in countries that have remained tight-lipped on their poorly-performing drug law enforcement regimes, including Denmark, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.