Cannabis in Italy: the Cassation says yes to Referendum

The Italian court of cassation says yes to the referendum for cannabis

More than 600,000 signatures were deposited in favour of legalisation

The Italian political scene is changing. This is demonstrated by recent battles that have focused on the desire to be more accessible, not only in theory but above all in practice, to exercise what are the rights of all of us. The topics that have been the subject of heated debate in recent times concern issues as delicate as they are urgent: legal euthanasia, the protection of people who suffer discrimination and violence, such as women and homosexuals, and the legalisation of cannabis.

How is Italy behaving in the face of all this? It tries to patch things up but does not always succeed. Signature collection for the legalisation of cannabis

The glimmer of change

As a result of the enormous success of the issue supported by the promoting committee, more than 630,000 signatures have been deposited with the Supreme Court, through which the Italian people have expressed their support for legalisation. The focal points in support concern, first and foremost, the contradiction in Italian legislation, which allows personal use, which does not constitute a crime, but obliges those who wish to exercise this right to turn to criminals, the so-called drug dealers, to obtain it. Another aspect of this mobilisation is the fact that there are many Italians who use it, around 6 million, and they are asking to be able to do so in the open. At the basis of this request is the firm conviction that hemp should not be counted among narcotic substances alongside others such as cocaine and heroin – to name but a few – because of the substantial differences between marijuana and the latter, which are far more harmful to the body and lack all the beneficial effects that cannabis seems to have. The response to the launch of the petition has been extraordinary. In just one week, more than 500,000 signatures were received, thanks above all to the novelty of online collection, which greatly facilitated access even for young people, who could have their say with just a few clicks. Only 5,000 paper signatures were collected in the old fashioned way, with an estimated 70% of those under 35. The crux of the matter is the proposal to amend the Consolidated Law on Drugs, in force since 1990, with the primary objective of decriminalising cultivation for personal use, provided certain limits are respected, which we will see below.

Read also: Is marijuana hallucinogenic?

The proposal in detail

The proposed text resulted from a compromise between three different proposals, which were the subject of heated and prolonged debates, including the fragmentation of the majority. The key points of this collaboration are essentially three. Firstly, the decriminalisation of home cultivation and possession for personal use was discussed. More precisely, the concession would see the non-punishment of cultivation by persons of legal age of up to four female marijuana plants. The second point concerns increased penalties for possession, trafficking or dealing in large quantities of marijuana. The increase of the penalties foreseen for these crimes would see an increase in the years of imprisonment foreseen, presently between 3 and 12, from 8 to 20, and in parallel, the financial sanctions applicable, currently between 20 thousand and 250 thousand, between 30 thousand and 300 thousand. On the other hand, concerning the detention or transfer of quantities identified as a minor, the new law would provide for imprisonment up to a maximum of 12 months or a forced participation in public service work, within the limit of two repeat offences, after which the offender would be arrested. Tougher penalties for possession, trafficking or dealing Stricter penalties in cases of possession, trafficking or dealing The scenario described should be specified. It would only be feasible in the case of offences between persons of major age. It would be a different story if minors were involved or if offences were committed in the vicinity of schools.

When will the Referendum take place?

According to the hypothesis made when the signatures were deposited at the Supreme Court, the Referendum was supposed to take place between April and June 2022, but this will not be the case. On 16 February, President Giuliano Amato announced the inadmissibility of the Referendum, effectively ignoring the more than 630,000 signatures in support of legalisation. The reasons are given not only fail to satisfy those who have worked in favour of this cause but also leave a bitter taste in the mouth. According to Amato, the Referendum is inadmissible because the object of the decriminalisation proposal would have been the cultivation not only of cannabis but also of other plants from which hard drugs, such as coca, for example, could be extracted. These statements have caused dismay and, no less critical, the defamatory effect on those who have fought the battle for the legalisation of cannabis, firmly upholding precisely the substantial difference between soft and hard drugs. How is it possible that there was such deception behind the propaganda embodied by the slogan ‘legal cannabis’? It seems more plausible, however, the theory that the Italian political class, which has always been too quickly inclined toward prohibitionism, has sought and undoubtedly found the loophole to sabotage an issue that still generates controversy and splits public opinion.

Read also: Marijuana: helpful informations!

To conclude

On the international scene, legalisation is more debated than ever. It divides nations into two major camps: those who look to the future, efficiently addressing the issues that arise, and those who remain anchored to the past, boycotting any attempt at evolution, even though the people clamour for these. Italy has once again chosen to frame itself on the wrong side, violating what are, or should be, the cornerstones of democracy.

As happened recently with the Referendum on legal euthanasia, the voice of the people is deluded into believing that it carries weight and is then unceremoniously boycotted. It is hoped that this unsuccessful attempt is only the first in a series.

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