Proponents of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Italy made major strides recently when a provisional version of a new proposal passed inspection by more than 200 legislators. The document addresses the limited use, cultivation, production and sale of cannabis.
Under the proposed guidelines, an individual would be able to legally possess up to 15 grams of marijuana. The limit for plants at home would be five. Only marijuana shops with government approval would be eligible to sell the plant, which would be designated as a state-controlled product. The proposal allows for cannabis use in private circumstances only.
Penalties for people who use cannabis today in Italy include fines or the suspension of a passport or driver’s license. Growers, however, generally face incarceration under current law.
The group responsible for coming up with the proposal is Intergrupo Parlamentare Cannabis Legale, a committee formed from legislators of multiple political parties. Lawmakers from both chambers of Italy’s Parliament, 217 members in all, have agreed to support the measure, which now must be reviewed by all 945 members of the Italian Parliament. Proponents who sit on the more radical ends of the political scale include the Greens, Five Star Movement, the Left, and Ecology and Freedom.
Benedetto Della Vedova, a junior minister for foreign affairs, sponsors the committee’s proposal. Della Vedova has stated that the benefits of legalization would be twofold. Legalizing marijuana would both drain control from mafias and alleviate pressure from Italy’s overburdened tribunal process.
Della Vedova has been a voice for legalization for some time. He is a former member of the Radical Party, which has campaigned for over forty years for more liberal laws regarding cannabis. He said,
“This shows that even in Italy, a pragmatic approach, based on a rigorous cost-benefit analysis, is now increasingly popular in the political and cultural debate, not only outside but also inside the parliament.”
An annual report by Franco Roberti, anti-mafia czar for Italy, supported the goals of the proposal by indicating that cannabis use in Italy has become as common as tobacco and alcohol. Roberti expressed his opinion that continued repressive efforts by law enforcement were a waste of resources. He urged politicians to take action toward legalization.
According to an Ipsos research poll commissioned by supporters, 60 percent of the Italian public would favor the changes outlined in the proposal.