Italy is set to hold a referendum on legalizing cannabis. The country’s parliament has approved the bill, which will be voted on by the public in October. If passed, it would make Italy the first major Western nation to legalize marijuana.
A referendum will be held in Italy to advocate for the legalization of cannabis.
After campaigners collected half a million signatures, the level needed to trigger a public vote, Italy is poised to conduct a referendum on cannabis legalization.
The referendum, which may be conducted as early as next year, proposes legalizing cannabis for personal use and eliminating jail terms for small-scale drug sales.
The petition received 500,000 signatures in the first seven days, organizers claimed, which was “exceptional but not unexpected.” The “speed of mobilization shows the desire for change on cannabis,” they said.
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To guarantee that the petition is approved for approval by the Supreme Court of Cassation, Italy’s highest court of appeal, by the 30 September deadline, pro-marijuana advocacy organizations are asking for “15% more signatures” to be added to the petition.
Almost half of those who signed, according to Antonella Soldo of the organization Meglio Legale (‘Better Legal’), were under the age of 25.
A new legislation enabling individuals to sign documents online via Italy’s digital identification system SPID increased the number of signatures.
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The Italian highest court decided in 2019 that small-scale domestic cannabis production for personal use is allowed, but it is still illegal to sell and cultivate cannabis plants on a big scale.
Marijuana has been legal in the United States for medicinal use since 2007.
According to the campaign’s organizers, Italy has six million recreational cannabis users.
Activists supporting the petition claim that legalizing cannabis will free up the criminal justice system by eliminating “unnecessary trials for tiny quantities of the substance” and increase state tax collections by approximately €7 billion.
- In Sicily, medical cannabis is now legal.
The cannabis issue has split Mario Draghi’s coalition government, which is divided mostly along right-wing and left-wing lines.
The right-wing Lega and Fratelli d’Italia parties are adamantly opposed to any liberalization, which the populist Movimento 5 Stelle supports, while the centre-left Partito Democratico seems to be dragging its heels.
If the supreme court accepts the cannabis petition, it will be referred to the constitutional court, which will determine if the legislation is in accordance with the Italian constitution.
If the petition is approved, Italy’s president will select a referendum date, which is expected to be in early 2022, according to Italian media sources.