Italians have joined the club of countries that allow their residents to grow and use a limited amount of marijuana at home as long as it’s for personal use. The country’s highest court in Rome made the landmark decision long before Christmas, on December 19, but local media only got wind of the news last Friday.
Legislation dating back to the 1990s barred the farming and sale of marijuana, but there has been great uncertainty about the laws due to contradictory court decisions. After being asked to clarify, the Court of Cassation declared that the crime of growing narcotics should exclude “small amounts grown domestically for the exclusive use of the growers.” In a one page statement, the court said that “at home, small scale cultivation activities are to be considered excluded from the application of the penal code.”
Matteo Mantero, a senator from the 5-Star Movement, the governing coalition party, presented an amendment to the 2020 budget calling for the legalization and regulation of domestic cannabis use. Sadly, it was ruled inadmissible by the Senate speaker form Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia party. He says that the Court has opened up the way for cannabis legalization and that it’s “up to us now.”
Leonardo Fiorentini, a representative of the drug policy advocacy group Forum Droghe, says that it’s a ” very important decision because it will shield from prison those who choose to cultivate marijuana for personal use.”
In 2013, a court in Torre Annunziata, a small town in southern Italy, sentenced a man to a year in prison and a $3,365.85 fine for growing two cannabis plants at home. After a series of appeals, different sections of the court system came to different conclusions on allowable scale of marijuana cultivation. In August, the court turned to its highest authority, the Sezioni Unite, which is like the Supreme Court of the country.
It concluded that the rudimentary techniques and small amounts produced in small scale growing makes it irrelevant to the illegal drug trade that the criminal law is intended to address.
There are 6.2 million cannabis users in Italy, most of them aged between 15 and 34, according to the newspaper Corrier della Sera. More men than women consume cannabis in the country. Although it is currently decriminalized for personal use, medical and industrial use is heavily restricted. The country is dotted with special “weed shops” that cater to people who smoke recreationally, as long as the plants maintain a THC level of below 0.6 percent.
Experts wonder what industry players like Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTCQB: NUGS) and Sproutly Canada Inc. (CSE: SPR) (OTCQB: SRUTF) (FRA: 38G) think of such decisions abroad when the U.S. federal government has remained steeped in a prohibitionist stance on marijuana.
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