In a landmark decision that triggered anger from the country’s conservatives and calls for further legalization from cannabis advocates, Italy’s Supreme Court has ruled that small scale domestic cannabis cultivation is legal. On December 19, the Court of Cassation was called on by the Supreme Court to give a clear interpretation of the Consolidated Law, the legal framework for dealing with drugs in the country. However, its interpretation of the law, stating that personal cultivation of small amounts of cannabis is legal, went under the radar until after Christmas.
Since 2014, Italy’s law has provided a distinction between softer and harder drugs, with personal possession of softer drugs, like cannabis, incurring a penalty of 1-3 months administrative punishment and harder drugs incurring a penalty of 2-12 months. The Consolidated Law of 1990 made the cultivation and sale of marijuana illegal, and it is punishable under the same system of hard and soft drugs. Over the years, however, different legal cases handled through the system generated contrary decisions, and the law was brought to the Supreme Court and Court of Cassation’s attentions for clarification.
The court declared that the crime of growing narcotics should exclude “small amounts grown domestically for the exclusive use of the grower.” Although it is not clear what amount of cannabis constitutes small scale cultivation, the ruling comes from a case where the offender possessed the plants. “The court has opened the way, now it’s up to us,” said Matteo Mantero, a senator from the co-ruling 5-Star Movement who presented an amendment to the 2020 budget calling for legislation and regulation of domestic cannabis use. However, it was ruled inadmissible by the senate speaker from Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia Party.
The law has been met with stiff opposition from the country’s conservatives, with most conservative lawmakers stating they would squash the ruling if the opportunity arose. “Drugs cause harm, forget about growing them or buying them in shops,” said Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League Party, referring to the proliferation of shops selling low THC cannabis in Italy. According to Maurizio Gasparri, a senator from Forza Italia, which is allied to the League, the center right coalition would, if it came to power, “will cancel the absurd verdict of the court.”
It would be interesting to hear what North American cannabis companies like Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF) have to say about the best way for the Italian lawmakers to reach a compromise on the verdict of the Supreme Court.
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