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Italy is working to pass a new reform bill that decriminalizes the cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use, but cracks down harder on individuals participating in the illegal cannabis trade.

The New Cannabis Legislation in Italy Targets Mafia Activity

Although the bill decriminalizes small-scale personal use, there’s more to it than that. It also ramps up the jail time for anyone caught selling, trafficking, or dealing cannabis. The punishment for distributing cannabis illegally would be raised from a maximum of six years in prison to ten years. The reform aims to crack down on the Italian mafia, who is raking in money from the underground trade.

The Value of The Illegal Cannabis Market in Italy Ranges from 7.2-30+ Billion Euros

Many politicians are passionate about the opportunity to crack down on Italian mobsters, who are rumored to be also working with the Islamic State to smuggle and profit off hashish, known as one of the most potent and concentrated forms of cannabis. Decriminalizing cannabis in Italy would take a huge chunk of their profit and redistribute it to the state.

Italy Decriminalizes Cannabis, but Ramps up Punishment for Distribution

“Legalize cannabis to take profits from the mafia, free police to do other work, control substances that are in circulation, fight consumption among adolescents, move money from traffickers’ accounts into the state’s coffers.”

Della Vedova, president of Forza Europa (FE) and secretary of More Europe (+EU)

As Expected, The Bill Received Intense Backlash From Right-Wing Politicians and Conservatives in Italy

This reformation bill to decriminalize cannabis cultivation could affect more than 6 million Italians who use cannabis recreationally.

The right – the League (nationalist right), Fratelli d’Italia (extreme right), Forza Italia (Christian Democrat), and Coraggio Italia (liberal-conservative) – have expressed their distain for the legislation.

“We are absolutely opposed to this legislation, to the message it puts across: that anyone can freely smoke a spliff.”

Maurizio Lupi, prominent New Centre Right (NCD) party deputy

However, there are many Italians who want exactly that: the freedom to use cannabis as they please.

According to a Recent Poll, 47.8% Remain in Favor of Legalizing Cannabis in Italy

The reform could make Italy one of the first EU countries to allow its residents to grow their own weed for private consumption. The measure, adopted by the country’s Lower House’s justice committee, allows up to four plants per household.

Italy legalized medical marijuana in 2007, but recreational cannabis remains illegal. This reform might change that. Politicians and activists say they want to empower individuals who wish to use marijuana for therapeutic reasons. 

“Growing cannabis at home is essential for those who need to use it therapeutically. Often they do not find one available. It is also used to fight against trafficking and the underground economy.” 

Mario Perantoni, deputy of the Five Star Movement party and rapporteur of the project

The Future of The Bill is Still Unclear

The measure will have to be submitted to amendments, then voted in plenary by the 630 deputies of the Palazzo Montecitorio (the Italian Chamber of Deputies). If it passes, Rome might be under a haze of weed smoke very soon— and while the Pope may not be happy about that — neither is the mafia.

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