Connect with us


Italian Marijuana Activists Have Already Collected Nearly Half The Signatures Needed To Put Legalization Measure Before Parliament



Nearly two years after a top Italian court blocked a referendum on marijuana legalization and psychedelics reform from going before voters, support in the country is building for a narrower, cannabis-only measure that would allow the home cultivation of four plants, the eventual creation of social clubs and the elimination of penalties for consumers.

“Despite the defeat we suffered after the collection of signatures with the legal cannabis referendum, we have decided to insist until things change,” Marco Perduca, an advocate and former Italian senator, told supporters in a recent email, according to a translation. Perduca was one of many organizers who supported the blocked 2021 referendum.

“Parliament will be forced to listen to us, but only when we have collected 50,000 signatures,” he added. “Don’t miss your signature to change Italy.”

Supporters have six months to gather 50,000 signatures, a process they began earlier this month. If the campaign reaches that threshold, lawmakers in Italy’s parliament would be forced to formally consider the proposal.

As of Thursday, less than a week into the signature-gathering push, the campaign said more than 20,000 certified signatures had already been collected.

Of those, the campaign said, 10,000 came in within the first 24 hours after the online petition was posted.

“We want to bring this issue back to parliament,” Antonella Soldo, coordinator of the Associazione Meglio Legale (Better Legal Association), one of the petition’s lead advocacy groups, said in a statement. “Such an immediate response is no coincidence. Do you know why this issue is so popular? Because it’s about people’s lives. Because every Italian family knows what anti-drug dogs mean in schools, the fear of stigma, of criminalization. The fight against cannabis is nothing more than a useless waste of resources that does not serve to stop the mafias but instead impacts people.”

Soldo told Marijuana Moment in an email over the weekend that she believes the early support is “promising.”

“Our proposal has gained substantial support from a diverse range of individuals and communities, emphasizing the urgent need for change,” she said. “Within a week, we gathered 20,000 signatures, nearly halfway nearly halfway to the required threshold for presenting our proposal to Parliament.”

“The enthusiastic response underscores the issue’s importance,” Soldo continued. “We are confident that the merits of our initiative, grounded in scientific evidence and inspired by successful models in other European countries like Germany, will resonate with the public.”

The eight-page legalization bill, whose title translates to “The decriminalization of the cultivation for personal use and in associated form of cannabis,” would allow cultivation of up to four cannabis plants solely for personal use. It would also allow for the creation of so-called cannabis social clubs, which could grow marijuana and distribute it exclusively to members.

Possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis would be allowed, “and the administrative penalties provided for today, such as the withdrawal of [a driver’s] license and passport, will be abolished,” the campaign said, adding that “Of course, driving in a state of alteration remains punishable.”

In a Facebook post earlier this week, Meglio Legale said it might “seem like an unattainable dream, but soon this will all come true in Germany, Europe’s largest economy. That’s why we decided to launch a People’s Initiative bill to legalize domestic cannabis growing right now!”

Soldo also told Marijuana Moment that the bill was inspired by the German legislation, which she added “has successfully navigated scrutiny by European institutions.”

“In a few months, Germany will legalize the cultivation of cannabis,” she said. “At that point, the Italian Parliament can no longer refuse to acknowledge that prohibition has failed.”

Germany is wending its way toward cannabis legalization through a process that was recently delayed until next year. If lawmakers pass that bill, the early stages of reform—including home cultivation for personal use—would begin as soon as April. Social clubs that could distribute marijuana to members would open in July.

Officials in Germany are eventually planning to introduce a complementary second measure that would establish pilot programs for commercial sales in cities throughout the country. That legislation is expected to be unveiled after its submitted to the European Commission for review.

Italian citizens’ previous effort to usher in marijuana reform fell apart early last year after the country’s Supreme Court of Cassation referred the referendum to the separate Constitutional Court, which was tasked with determining the legality of the proposal’s provisions. That court subsequently announced that the cannabis and psilocybin initiative did not meet constitutional standards and, therefore, would not be placed on a ballot for voters to decide. It also rejected a separate measure related to the right to euthanasia.

The Constitutional Court is charged with looking into whether referendums will conflict with the Constitution, the country’s fiscal system or international treaties to which Italy is a party. While advocates were confident that the limited the scope of the proposed reform would satisfy the legal standard, the 15-judge court disagreed.

Giuliano Amato, the president of the court, argued at a press conference in February 2022 that the measure’s broad, multi-drug scope could “make us violate multiple international obligations which are an indisputable limitation of the Constitution,” according to a translation.

The referendum was fairly unique compared to U.S. ballot initiatives that have been enacted. While the proposal as drafted would have legalized the cultivation of several plant-based drugs, it would leave in place the prohibition on processing them. Marijuana and certain entheogenic substances like psilocybin don’t require additional manufacturing, and thus would effectively be made legal. By contrast, even hashish would be banned because it does require processing raw marijuana to some extent. Meanwhile, a current decriminalized fine on possessing and using cannabis would have also remained in place if the referendum were approved.

Advocates argued that the court’s justification for blocking the referendum was partly due to a misunderstanding about which sections of the country’s drug code the proposal would amend.

While Germany next year could become Europe’s biggest economy to legalize marijuana, the EU’s smallest country—Malta—was the continent’s first to make the change, enacting the reform in December 2021.

Government officials from multiple countries, including the U.S., also met in Germany last month to discuss international marijuana policy issues as the host nation works to enact legalization.

A group of German lawmakers, as well as Narcotics Drugs Commissioner Burkhard Blienert, separately visited the U.S. and toured California cannabis businesses last year to inform their country’s approach to legalization.

The visit came about two months after top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with recreational marijuana legalization.

A novel international survey that was released last year found majority support for legalization in several key European countries.

Colombia’s President Says Senators Who Blocked Marijuana Legalization Bill Are Only Helping Cartels Perpetuating Violence

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
Become a patron at Patreon!

Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


Marijuana News In Your Inbox

Get our daily newsletter.

Support Marijuana Moment

Marijuana News In Your Inbox


Get our daily newsletter.