Saturday, 5 September 2020

Cannabis in Italy, it's History and current legislation.

 Cannabis in Italy is legal for medical and industrial uses. Strictly regulated, while it's decriminalized for recreational uses. in particular, the possession of small amounts of marijuana for private use may be a misdemeanor and it's subjected to fines, as well as the suspension of private documents (e.g. passports and driver's licenses). Nevertheless, unauthorized sale of cannabis-related products is against the law and punishable with imprisonment, . The licensed cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes requires the utilization of certified seeds, however there's no need for authorization so as to plant certified seeds with minimal levels of psychoactive compounds (a.k.a. cannabis light)

 Background

A 1914 USDA report described the Italian hemp because the highest-priced hemp fiber in both the American and European markets, noting that it had been obtained from plants almost like those cultivated in Kentucky at the time. 

In the 1940s, Italy was believed to be the second-biggest producer of commercial cannabis within the world, after the Soviet Union , although statistics from China, another major producer, aren't available. 

The decline of hemp production in Italy came with the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s, during which era synthetic fibers were introduced into the market and the international campaign against narcotics intensified. Italy endorsed all the three major drug control treaties, and shortly after the passage of the anti-drug Cossiga Law 685/75 of 1975, hemp fields in Italy all disappeared.

In recent years, hemp production for medical and industrial purposes has seen a resurgence in Italy because of new technologies and innovative applications involving cannabis plants. New businesses started growing cannabis in several Regions after looser requirements came into force in 2016 regarding the cultivation of cannabis plants with levels of THC below 0.2% (a.k.a. cannabis light), estimated cultivation area increased from 400 hectares in 2013 to almost 4000 in 2018.

Legalization efforts

In 2006, Fini-Giovanardi Law 49/06 removed the distinction between hard and soft drugs, and until it was struck down by the Constitutional Court in 2014 the possession of marijuana and hashish was punishable as harshly like possession of heroin or cocaine. The law tripled sentences for selling, cultivating, and possessing cannabis from 2–6 years to 6–20 years, resulting in prison overcrowding, with 40% of inmates being jailed for drug-related crimes, the interesting part of this was cannabis consumption wasn't criminalized.

Today, possession of cannabis for private use is decriminalized and subjected to fines and therefore the confiscation of private documents like passports and driver's licenses, while its unlicensed cultivation and sale are still illegal and punishable with imprisonment, although there are cases during which followers of the Rastafari religion are acquitted of possession charges on religious grounds.

Popularity of recreational cannabis led in 2016 to renewed legalization efforts in Parliament. especially , the worth of the illegal cannabis market in Italy is estimated between 7.2 billion and quite 30 billion euros, while the potential tax income from legal cannabis is estimated between 5.5 and 8.5 billion euros.] Moreover, the potential GDP boost resulting from a legal cannabis market in Italy is estimated between 1.30% and 2.34%.

After the defeat of the constitutional referendum and therefore the subsequent resignation of then Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on 12 December 2016, legalization efforts stalled in Parliament.

Cannabis light

In 2016, the "cannabis light" Law 242/16 removed the necessity for authorization to plant certified cannabis seeds with levels of THC below 0.2%, while the detection of THC levels between 0.2% and 0.6% during field inspections remains considered acceptable, when it are often attributed to natural causes. The law also requires farmers to stay the certification receipts for up to at least one year, however the utilization of cannabis leaves and inflorescences for edible products remains prohibited.[4][5] The potential revenue from the sale of cannabis light in Italy is estimated to be quite 40 million euros, and by 2018 many new businesses started growing cannabis in several Regions.

Nevertheless, in September 2018, then Interior Minister and Northern League party leader Matteo Salvini issued a memo to enforcement agencies outlining a policy towards cannabis retailers. especially , the directive states that cannabis products that contain THC levels above 0.2%, or that are made up of plants not included within the official list of commercial hemp varieties, must be considered as narcotics and thus confiscated. Moreover, the Superior Council of Health, which provides technical-scientific counsel to the Ministry of Health, recommended in April 2018 to prevent the free sale of cannabis light, as a public health precaution. The Council argued that the economic applications of cannabis, as envisaged within the Law 242/16, don't include cannabis inflorescences; and that they also cited a scarcity of scientific studies on the consequences of even small levels of THC on possibly vulnerable subjects like older people, breastfeeding mothers, and patients affected by certain pathologies, which prevents them form ruling out possible health risks.

Adding to the uncertainty within the cannabis light market, the Supreme Court of Cassation ruled in May 2019 that the sale of derivatives of marijuana which don't fall within the scope of the Law 242/16, most notably oils, resins, buds, and leaves, is against the law under Italian Law unless such products are effectively barren of narcotic effects. The Court also reaffirmed that only certain agricultural sorts of cannabis are permitted under the Law 242/16, which was meant to profit farmers growing industrial hemp.

In 2019, a team of economists from the University of Magna Graecia, Universit√© Catholique de Louvain, and therefore the Erasmus School of Economics published a study on the effect of sunshine cannabis liberalization in Italy on the gangland . Albeit light cannabis doesn't generate hype as illegal marijuana, the study showed that confiscations of illegal marijuana declined with the opening of sunshine cannabis shops. Forgone revenues for criminal organizations were estimated to be a minimum of 90–170 million euros per annum .

Personal use

In December 2019, the Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that cultivating domestically small amounts of cannabis for the exclusive use of the grower is legal under Italian Law, after being asked to clarify previous conflicting interpretations of the law.

In absence of a printed , in-depth ruling specifying it, the tiny amount of legally allowed cannabis has not yet been quantified, however the ruling came from a case during which the offender possessed two plants. The Court argued that public health isn't threatened by one cannabis user cultivating a couple of plants during a domestic setting and, so as to justify the assessment of a private use of the plants, it pointed to the tiny size of the cultivation which, thanks to the rudimental techniques used, the tiny number of plants present, the modest achievable amount of the ultimate product, and therefore the lack of evidence connecting it to a bigger narcotic market, appear to be destined exclusively for the private use of the cultivator.

The ruling came days after a proposed amendment to the 2020 budget calling for legalisation and regulation of domestic cannabis use, although approved by the Lower House, was ruled inadmissible by the President of the Senate on technical grounds.



Medical cannabis 

In January 2013, Italy legalized the medical use of cannabis with a doctor's prescription. However, at the time, the value of cannabis-based medicine wasn't covered by the State and therefore the drug had to be imported from abroad, primarily from Netherlands , making it too expensive for the typical patient to shop for legally at pharmacies, with prices reaching up to 50 € (i.e. about 59 US$) per gram.

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti announced in September 2014 that the military would begin growing cannabis plants during a secure room at a chemical-pharmaceutical military facility in Florence. The state-approved cannabis is prescribed for several conditions, especially for chronic pain relief to patients with cancer and MS , so as to stay up with the demand from doctors and patients, the military is additionally getting to expand its cultivation to other areas of the military facility, where new greenhouses have already been found out so as to succeed in an estimated production of 300 kg per annum.

The prescription of cannabis for medical use is allowed when the patient is unresponsive to standard or standard therapies, and therefore the list of medical uses includes:-

  • Relieving chronic pain, also as pain related to MS and medulla spinalis injuries;
  • Treating nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and HIV treatments;
  • Stimulating appetite for patients affected by cachexia, anorexia, cancer, and AIDS;
  • Inducing hypotension within glaucomas;
  • Reducing involuntary movements for patients suffering from Tourette syndrome.

The state-run production and distribution of medical cannabis is that the results of a collaboration between the Ministries of Health and Defence, also as other entities including MiPAAF, ISS, the Regions, and qualified experts.

 The aim is to make sure the supply of the raw material; guarantee the safe preparation and use of cannabis-based medicine; prevent the utilization of unauthorized, illegal, or counterfeit products; and make therapies affordable by reducing the value of cannabis.

The final price of the merchandise being sold to pharmacies by the military facility, supported the estimated production costs and therefore the VAT, is adequate to 6.88 € (i.e. 7.39 US$) per gram.

The Ministry of Health also publishes consumption statistics for medical cannabis both at a national and a regional level, supported regional distribution requests and therefore the authorized sale of the merchandise .

The high demand caused pharmacies throughout Italy to run out of medical cannabis by September 2017, prompting many patients with prescriptions to show to the black market, while in January 2018 the importation of cannabis was extended to Canada. The potential revenue from medicinal cannabis is estimated to be quite 1.4 billion euros, with the interior market creating a minimum of 10000 jobs and reducing the dependence on imports.

Industrial cannabis

In 2016, Italy removed the necessity for authorization to grow certified hemp with levels of THC below 0.2%, so as to stimulate the assembly of commercial hemp and to supply an alternate to the cultivation of wheat for farmers damaged by low prices, desiccated lands, and competition from large corporations importing grain from abroad.[14] especially , the potential take advantage of the cultivation of hemp in Italy is estimated to be quite 2500 € (i.e. about 2900 US$) per hectare, which is quite 10 times the estimated yield for wheat, and with the increasing number of farmers turning to hemp production, the general production of durum in Italy decreased by quite 4% in 2017.

The cultivation of commercial hemp with minimal levels of psychoactive compounds has several commercial applications, including food, fabrics, clothing, biofuel, construction materials, and animal feed. In Italy, certified hemp plants are often used for both industrial and decorative purposes, however food products can only be derived from the hemp seeds, since they need no THC content, while the consumption of hemp flowers and leaves remains prohibited.[4][5] On the opposite hand, the hemp seeds reportedly contain all essential amino acids in optimal proportions and in an easily digestible form, and edible products include biscuits, bread, flour, anti-inflammatory oil, ricotta, tofu, and beer.

The elevated protein content also makes cannabis-based food an appropriate meat replacement for vegetarians, while its intense flavour has even been used for gelato, chocolate bars, and pastries. Other hemp-derived products include oils utilized in cosmetics, thermally insulating ecobricks, pellet fuel, natural resins and fabrics which will be used for clothing thanks to their thermal properties, and for furnitures thanks to their resistance.

Another significant application of commercial cannabis is soil decontamination through phytoremediation, a process during which contaminants are absorbed by the fast-growing roots of hemp plants, which store the toxins or maybe transform them into a harmless substance. samples of applications include the removal of toxic chemical dioxins from farm lands and grazing fields round the Ilva steel mill near Taranto, also because the removal of radioactive strontium and cesium from areas suffering from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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Disclaimer: the principles contained here is not designed nor meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is only achieved for educational confidences only. You should recognise full responsibility for the way you decide on to use this information.

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