Legal Weed Referendum Blocked by Judges in Italy on Technicality

Despite more than 600,000 people backing a referendum on legalising cannabis cultivation, Italy's high court said the proposal would breach international law.

A popular national referendum to legalise cannabis cultivation in Italy has been torpedoed by a court because organisers wanted to allow the growing of all psychoactive plants. 

The country’s Constitutional Court in Rome on Wednesday rejected the proposal despite it having 630,000 signatures, which is above the threshold to trigger a referendum. 

The petition called for reduced punishments for weed offences, cannabis cultivation to be legalised, as well as allowing for the growing of all psychoactive plants and fungi including magic mushrooms. 

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But the judges said parts of the proposal would flout international laws. Giuliano Amato, president of the Constitutional Court, told a news conference the referendum could not take place because the plans would allow for the growing of drugs more powerful than cannabis, such as coca and opium poppies. “This is enough to make us violate multiple international obligations,” he said. 

Petition organisers, who said their plans for cannabis law reform would reduce prison overcrowding and let the police devote more time to targeting organised crime, denied they wanted to legalise the growing of plants that could be processed into drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Their plans would have kept processing coca and opium poppies illegal.

They said the decision was a rejection of Italians’ constitutional rights and a failure to take business away from the mafia. “Only the mafia wins today,” the petition’s organisers said on Facebook. “We will take a few days to figure out how to relaunch the battle for legal cannabis and we make you a promise: we won't stop!” 

Benedetto Della Vedova, secretary of the +Europa party which supported the referendum, said the court had "deprived Italy of a public debate”. He said on cannabis reform “Italy remains stationary while other countries move forward”. 

Currently in Italy, the use of weed for medical purposes is allowed, as is the possession of small amounts of recreational weed. But selling and producing cannabis, outside of government produced medical weed, is a criminal offence. 

In the last year cannabis law reform in Europe has gathered pace, with GermanyMalta and Luxembourg having recently decided to legalise weed.

Tagged:

Weed, Cannabis, italy, weed legalisation, worldnews, world drugs

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