After campaign organizations gathered the necessary 500,000 signatures in less than a week, Italy will likely vote whether or not to legalize cannabis in a referendum next year.
In Italy, a referendum may be called if 500,000 signatures are collected, and activists were able to gather the required number far ahead of the September 30 deadline.
If the public decides to legalize cannabis, it will be lawful to buy, sell, and grow the substance under Italian law.
On their official Facebook page, the activists stated, “More than 500,000 online signatures in just a week for the #ReferendumCannabis. We celebrate them by thanking you one by one, because this is a first and not just in Italy.”
Italian legislation does not make it illegal to use cannabis, and medicinal marijuana is legal. Buying, selling, and mass growing the plant, on the other hand, is prohibited, and dealers who are caught may face up to ten years in jail.
“It’s a contradiction,” activists said, “as if the state blames organized crime for everything. Legalizing consumption does not imply encouraging it, but rather making it safer and more educated.”
They also said that legalizing cannabis would put an end to needless trials for tiny quantities of the substance and guarantee that people who use it to alleviate severe pain would never have to face a court again.
The organization also claimed that legalizing cannabis would create tens of thousands of new employment and boost state tax revenues, with an estimated worth of 7 billion euros ($8.2 billion).
They’ll keep collecting signatures until the referendum request is approved by the Supreme Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeal in the country.
If it passes, the petition will be submitted to the Constitutional Court for examination, with the goal of determining whether the legislation is in accordance with the Italian Constitution. If the referendum is approved, the Italian President will pick a date for it.
Although recreational cannabis use was made legal in Italy in 1993, a 2006 legislation placed fines on users and increased jail terms for anyone growing, selling, or carrying the substance until it was changed in 2014.
Italy has adopted a more permissive attitude than some of its European neighbors, with the United Kingdom and France among those who continue to ban cannabis usage for recreational purposes.
According to local news source Ansa, Italy decriminalized the growing of small quantities of cannabis for personal use on September 8, but the maximum prison sentence for selling the substance was raised from six to ten years.
Consumers may still be punished and have their personal papers revoked under existing regulations, but dealers and growers stand to gain the most from a possible legislation change, since prison time is no longer an option.
According to the organizers of the campaign, there are 6 million cannabis users in Italy. According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s 2021 European Drug Report, approximately 1.8 percent of people aged 15 to 64 in the European Union consumed it on a daily basis.
According to the study, cannabis accounted for 74% of narcotics confiscated by law enforcement authorities in the European Union, followed by cocaine (11%), and amphetamines (5%).