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Italian Supreme Court Nixes Constitutional Mandate On Cannabis

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In a blow to forward reform in Italy, the Supreme Court blocks request to hold a referendum on the legalization of cannabis cultivation

Cannabis reform may be coming to Europe in ever more advanced ways, but it still does not mean that the forces against it are giving way en masse. Indeed, in every European country so far, reform has been wrought, painfully, and mostly first by legal challenge.

This is now clearly the case in Italy where the country’s top legal authority just nixed the possibility of a voter referendum to legalize the growing of cannabis. The proposal sought to legalize home grow for personal use and reduce sanctions for other “crimes” including decriminalization and eliminating prison time for those selling small amounts of the drug.

The move has prompted a fierce response from pro-legalization advocates who say that this refusal is an attack on constitutional freedom and liberty inherent in a democracy. Hundreds of thousands of Italians signed the proposal. The court claims that the referendum included other narcotics that are considered to be hard drugs that could not be liberalized. 

What Is Likely to Happen Next?

There are two likely outcomes. The first is that a new referendum will be launched that only includes cannabis. This should not be all that hard to do in an environment where it is obvious to Italians that cannabis reform is afoot across Europe (if not globally). 

Then of course there is the other option – a lawsuit on behalf of a patient recently caught growing and selling small amounts. 

In this environment, both could happen. Further, given the fact that European level courts have still not ruled in favour of this kind of reform, it is a potent target.

The Italian Conundrum

The problem right now in Italy is that cannabis reform is in a bit of a grey space. Regulated cannabis firms are allowed to cultivate cannabis, as are individuals. However, when it comes to the transaction of nonregulated cannabis, those who want to see this proceed are likely to find themselves pitted against the “industry.” Not to mention consumers who want to be able to buy and consume safe cannabis.

That said, what the failure of this referendum may also do is galvanize the Italian government to create a fully regulated recreational market. Particularly post Covid, it is a rare government globally which is not looking for tax revenue just about anywhere it can get it.

Be sure to book your tickets to the International Cannabis Business Conference when it returns to Barcelona, Berlin, and Zurich in 2022!