Italian drug laws changed: cannabis no longer legally equal to heroin and cocaine

Italy is going back to the previous law from the 90's that says people can't go to jail for the use of marijuana and hashish.

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After we reported on the Italian Democratic Senator Luigi Manconi filing a bill to legalise cannabis use and cultivation, Italy made it to the front page again when the Italian city of Turin voted in favor of legalizing cannabis and became the first city in the country to do so. Now they managed to do what the USA couldn’t: no longer treat marijuana equally as heroin and cocaine.

[quote_right]”The so-called drug war as conceived in North America has been lost and it’s time to return to rational rules that distinguish between substances”[/quote_right]

The first step to legalization was made a few days ago when the constitutional court valuated the way the Fini-Giovanardi law had been promoted in 2006, unconstitutional. The decree was promoted a few weeks before the 2006 elections and it set no difference between hard and soft drugs.

The law increased the legal punishments for soft drugs from a maximum of 6 years to 20 years. Now, almost 10 thousand inmates tried for possession or traffic of little amount of cannabis could be affected by the new sentence or even released from prison.

According to prison rights group Antigone, 40 per cent of all inmates in Italian prisons were serving sentences for drug crimes.

Italian jails are the most crowded in the European Union, with around 62,000 detainees held in cells built for fewer than 48,000, official data states.

Italy now goes back to the previous law from the 90’s that says people can’t go to jail for the use of marijuana and hashish.

“The so-called drug war as conceived in North America has been lost and it’s time to return to rational rules that distinguish between substances,” Franco Corleone, of the human rights group Society of Reason said.

But Senator Carlo Giovanardi, one of the original architects of the stricter law, said the ruling was a “devastating choice from a scientific viewpoint and in the message it sends to young people that some drugs are less dangerous than others”.

Some politicians like Gasparri and miss Meloni consider the new sentence useless and dangerous. Vendola (left wing) is for legalization.

See also: An introduction to Italian cannabis politics.