Italy is likely to decide in about a year whether to approve the non.incrimination of cannabis dealers and growers, after a group of activists managed to collect the required 500,000 signatures within a week. Although they managed to reach hundreds of thousands of signatures even before the deadline set for the end of September, the activists continue to collect more signatures, to make sure that the initiative is not rejected following the disqualification of some of them.
According to a CNN report, the group will submit the referendum proposal to the Supreme Court for appeal. If the proposal passes, it will be sent to the Italian Constitutional Court (the Supreme Court of the country), in order to assess whether it complies with the Italian Constitution. If so – President Sergio Materella will set a date for a referendum.
If the public votes in favor of non.discrimination, the purchase, sale and cultivation of the drug will become legal in the country. “More than 500,000 signatures online in just one week,” the struggle’s official Facebook page read. “We celebrate them by thanking you one by one, because such a thing has never been seen before, and not just in Italy.”
If the move goes through, Italy will make billions
Under Italian law, cannabis use is not criminal, and the use of marijuana for medical purposes is permitted. However, buying, selling and mass.growing the plant is illegal, and traders could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
“This is a paradox, as if the state is blaming organized crime for the whole phenomenon,” the activists claimed. “Legalization does not mean promoting consumption – but making it safer and more informed.”
“If cannabis were legal, it would promise patients who use it to relieve their excruciating pain that they will never have to face the courts again,” they added.
The group also claimed that legalization would create thousands of new jobs and increase state tax revenues. The expected revenue from the move is about seven billion euros. “We will continue to share, explain, take to the streets and discuss because we know very well what we want – legal cannabis and Italy free from the Mafia!”, The group announced.
Italy takes a more liberal stance over other European countries, with Britain and France, for example, continuing to incriminate cannabis consumers. On September 8, Italy approved non.discrimination for plant growers in small quantities and for personal use, but the maximum prison sentence for traders increased from six to 10 years.
Under current law, fines can still be imposed on consumers and their personal documents confiscated. It is the sellers and growers who will benefit from the change in the law – imprisonment will no longer be an option for them.
According to the organizers of the non.discrimination campaign, there are about six million cannabis users in Italy. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), approximately 1.8% of EU citizens aged 15.64 use cannabis daily. According to the center, about 74% of the drugs seized by EU law enforcement agencies are cannabis. Cocaine makes up 11%, and amphetamines 5%.