Italy has rarely if ever provided leadership in Europe on drug policy reform,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the US-based Drug Policy Alliance, “which is why this bill, if it becomes law, will be of great significance not just within Italy but regionally and even globally.
With five more U.S. states preparing to vote on marijuana legalization on November 8, and Canada poised to legalize marijuana next year, Italy could well provide the catalyst that Europe needs to move forward in ending marijuana prohibition.
If the bill goes through, Italians will be able to possess up to 15 grams of cannabis for home use. The cultivation of up to 5 plants per person will be allowed, as will the establishment of cannabis clubs with memberships of up to 50 people per club.
The bill arrives on a wave of support from policymakers and activists. Marco Perduca, former senator and spearhead of the Italian legalisation campaign, has penned a valuable piece providing perspective on the pro-cannabis groundswell that led to the push for change.
Over the last 20 years, bills to decriminalize personal possession of all substances or regulate cannabis have been presented in Italy, but they were never brought up for discussion by the relevant committees. Indeed, next week’s parliamentary discussion is the first time this type of legislation has reached this level of debate in Italy.
This time around, a group called Cannabis Legale, composed of 220 deputies and 80 senators, developed and agreed on the proposal’s text. If the legislation moves to the floor, it will make Italy the only country in the European Union with a legislative initiative to legally regulate cannabis production and use for nonmedical purposes.
Quoted in the DPA’s press release, Perduca, who also coordinated Legalizziamo! – a campaign to gather 50,000 signatures to pressure parliament into considering the issue, warmly welcomes the acknowledgement of policymakers:
We are asking Italians to take part in the legislative process with a proposal to strengthen and complement what Parliament is discussing. We welcome their compromise text but we believe that Italy is ready for an even more radical reform on illicit substances.
We will be reporting on the outcome of the bill early next week.