Italy’s citizens’ initiative to legalize the personal use of cannabis has been blocked by Italy’s constitutional court, although a petition on the subject attracted 630,000 signatures, enough to be put to a vote.
The result of the online referendum, held in 2021, meant that Italian citizens were ready to vote to legalize the personal cultivation and possession of cannabis. In a judgment on Wednesday, however, the judges said the proposed law would have forced Italy to violate its international obligations to prevent drug trafficking.
The referendum proposal sought to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for personal use and ease penalties for other cannabis-related crimes, with violators no longer risking jail time for selling small amounts of the drug.
Constitutional Court President Giuliano Amato said the referendum could be interpreted as including other narcotics considered hard drugs, such as opium, which could not be liberalized. “It amounts to making us violate multiple international obligations,” Mr. Amato said.
Responding to the decision, members of the Referendum Cannabis association said: “This is not a defeat for us and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who are committed to legal cannabis. Today is a defeat for the institutions that are no longer able to understand an important part of this country. »
“It is the failure of a court that fails to guarantee Italians a constitutional right, of a parliament that for thirty years has failed to crush the mafia…”
“The only winner today is the mafia…. “.
“Now we are going to take a few days to figure out how to re-ignite the battle for legal cannabis and we make you a promise: we won’t stop this time either! “.
Since 2019, growing cannabis at home for personal use is no longer a crime in Italy. Since 2016, possession of small amounts of cannabis is also no longer a criminal offence.
Campaigners hoped Italy could follow in the footsteps of countries such as Malta, the first European country to legalize cannabis for adult use, and countries such as Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland, all of which are in the process of to create some form of legal cannabis market.