Italy’s Supreme Court ruled that growing small amounts of cannabis for private use is not a crime. The ruling followed an appeal by a man who was facing charges for having two cannabis plants he grew at home.
A 1990s law prohibits the cultivation and sale of cannabis in Italy, but court decisions and a 2016 amendment that created a loophole in the law created confusion as to how the original law should be interpreted. The 2016 amendment allowed for cannabis with a THC level of below 0.6 percent to be sold in legal weed shops.
The court has stopped short of legalizing cannabis, but has decriminalized small, private cultivation, meaning it is not treated as a serious crime. The ruling was made Dec. 19, 2019, but wasn’t made public until recently.
“It’s a very important decision, because it will shield from prison those who choose to cultivate marijuana for personal use,” said Leonardo Fiorentini, a representative of the drug policy advocacy group Forum Droghe.
Matteo Mantero, a senator from the co-ruling 5-Star Movement, presented an amendment to the 2020 budget that called for the legalization and regulation of domestic cannabis use, but it was ruled as inadmissible from the conservative Forza Italia party.
“Drugs cause harm, forget about growing them or buying them in shops,” Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing League Party said in reference to shops selling low-strength “legal weed” that are widespread in Italy.
The Italian Ministry of Health plans to triple its production of domestically produced medical cannabis for 2020, signaling the intention of the government to rely less on imports to serve the domestic demand for medical cannabis. Two years ago, the only legal cannabis cultivator in Italy struggled with keeping up with the demand for its low-THC cannabis for medical use.