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Is marijuana legal in Italy?

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More and more European countries are deciding to change their laws with respect to legalizing marijuana. A serious step has already been taken by Germany and Luxembourg as well as Malta. It is estimated that big changes in this area are also being prepared by the Netherlands. And what is the situation in Italy, once the second largest producer of true hemp? Is there a chance that marijuana will be legalized in Italy in 2022?

Italy and marijuana. History of cultivation

Until the early 1950s, hemp cultivation in Italy was permitted. The country was among the largest producers of hemp in the world. A few years after World War II, the Italian government banned the cultivation of that plant. The stance on that did not change until 2017, when a directive was issued on the production and sale of legal marijuana. This indicated an ideological and political shift, but it was the first step on a long way to legalizing cannabis in Italy.

According to the above-mentioned directive, the cultivation of hemp in Italy is legal and does not require any license or authorization from the government. However, this only applies to products containing less than 0.6% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The Italian government also explained that the purpose of the directive is to define the scope of industrial hemp production and stressed that it is only legal if the seeds have the required certification. Each producer must be able to provide adequate documentation concerning the purchase of seeds dating back no more than 12 months.

Is it legal to grow hemp in Italy?

Has the legalization of marijuana in Italy gone through all the legal processes? Until the end of 2021, growing cannabis with a THC concentration greater than 0.6% was still considered a crime punishable by imprisonment. 

It is worth mentioning that in 2019 there was a buzz about the landmark Supreme Court ruling which judged that there is nothing dangerous in home-grown marijuana for personal use. And while Italian nationalists demanded that the court ruling be overturned, it didn’t happen, leading to hopes of a loosening of Italy’s laws regarding the legalization of cannabis in Italy.

Is it legal to use marijuana in Italy?

The use of marijuana in Italy is only allowed for medical purposes. Nevertheless, the regulations concerning hemp are not as restrictive as, for example, in Poland. Because possession of small amounts of hemp for personal use is not treated as a crime, but as a misdemeanour. This means that a person who is caught in possession of certain amounts of marijuana will not go to jail. BUT such a person can be fined or their passport or driver’s license may be suspended. The complete legalization of marijuana in Italy is therefore still an open question, and talks on the subject are still ongoing. A breakthrough on this issue was supposed to be a referendum.

Referendum on cannabis legalization in Italy

The referendum proposal was aimed at legalizing cannabis in Italy with respect to cultivation for personal use and easing penalties for other cannabis-related crimes. According to market and economic estimates, legalizing marijuana in Italy would bring quite a few benefits to the state, including above all:

  • new jobs;
  • increase of the GDP;
  • resumption of use of much agricultural land.

Supporters of the referendum have collected the required 500,000 signatures, and according to polls, 57% of the public is in favour of legalizing cannabis in Italy. However, according to recent reports, on Wednesday, 16 February 2022, the Constitutional Court rejected a request for a referendum on the legalization of marijuana in Italy in 2022. The Chief Justice’s rationale is that the referendum was intended to include also other drugs, considered hard drugs, that should not be legalized.

Italy and CBD – 2022 standards

In Italy, the standards for CBD are somewhat complicated. This is because oils that are legal are those with THC levels of less than 0.6%. However, it is prohibited to smoke dried CBD in Italy. Where did these regulations come from? This probably stems from the fact that the sale of dried CBD in Italy has been linked to a decrease in sales of various drugs, as patients have often opted for self-medication based specifically on CBD

See also: 

Legal status of THC and CBD in the Czech Republic

THC and CBD in Norway – legal regulations



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