As Germany looks ahead to potentially legalize adult-use cannabis in 2024, another European country is hoping to follow suit. So far, the quick progress and public interest is promising.
Cannabis reform advocates in Italy shared last week that in just one week they reached nearly half of the required signatures needed to place a cannabis legalization measure before the parliament. Campaigning began earlier in December, and advocates have six months to gather the 50,000 total signatures.
The legalization bill, with the translated title “The decriminalization of the cultivation for personal use and in associated form of cannabis,” would allow for individuals to cultivate up to four cannabis plants for personal use and would create cannabis social clubs to grow and distribute to its members. The bill would also allow for individuals to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, and the current “administrative penalties provided for today, such as the withdrawal of [a driver’s] license and passport, will be abolished,” according to the campaign.
The effort is the second recent push in Italy for cannabis reform. The first looked at cannabis legalization and psychedelic reform back in 2021, though the referendum was ultimately blocked by a top Italian court from going before voters because it did not meet constitutional standards.
Some of the same organizers who supported that first effort, including advocate and former Italian senator Marco Perduca, are once again fighting for this new cannabis-specific effort.
“Despite the defeat we suffered after the collection of signatures with the legal cannabis referendum, we have decided to insist until things change,” Perduca recently said in a translated email to supporters. “Parliament will be forced to listen to us, but only when we have collected 50,000 signatures. Don’t miss your signature to change Italy.”’
Antonella Soldo, a coordinator with one of the petition’s lead advocacy groups Associazione Meglio Legale (Better Legal Association), pointed to the immediate interest and support surrounding the cannabis legislation, calling the response “no coincidence“ in a statement.
“Do you know why this issue is so popular? Because it’s about people’s lives,” Soldo said. “Because every Italian family knows what anti-drug dogs mean in schools, the fear of stigma, of criminalization. The fight against cannabis is nothing more than a useless waste of resources that does not serve to stop the mafias but instead impacts people.”
A growing number of countries in Europe are turning to adult-use cannabis legalization, though Germany has garnered substantial attention recently as it steadily inches forward to ushering in its new era of legal recreational cannabis. Meglio Legale touched on following in Germany’s footsteps in a Facebook post earlier this week, nodding to German Prime Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach’s comment that the initiative is aimed at protecting “the good of young people.”
“And in Italy everything is silent? Not really,” the translated post reads. “A few days ago Better Legal and 30 other associations launched a bill on a popular initiative to ‘do like in Germany’ and legalize domestic cannabis growing.”
According to Soldo, the Italian bill was also inspired by Germany’s legislation.
“In a few months, Germany will legalize the cultivation of cannabis,” she said. “At that point, the Italian Parliament can no longer refuse to acknowledge that prohibition has failed.”
The German draft law would allow residents to grow up to three plants at home, possessing no more than 50 grams of cannabis cultivation at home. The legislation would also allow people to carry 25-30 grams of cannabis in public and 50-60 grams in private. It would also similarly open social clubs to grow and distribute cannabis exclusively to members.
Legalization of cannabis possession and cultivation is set to take effect on April 1, 2024, while cannabis social clubs would be established later in the year.
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