ITALY: The Constitutional Court rejects the referendum on the legalization of cannabis.

Italy’s constitutional court blocked Italy’s citizens’ initiative to legalize the personal use of cannabis. The petition initially attracted 630,000 signatures, enough to be put to the vote.

“We surrender, sincerely; you have won. Keep your country a hundred years old, your nostalgia for Italy in black and white. Keep everything, but leave us our rage and our shame for a country that clings to everything rather than accepting change.”

This bitter editorial was written by the director of the Fan page news site the day after a double decision by the Italian Constitutional Court. The court gave an unfavorable opinion on the proposals for abrogative referendums to decriminalize euthanasia and the cultivation of cannabis. The citizens of Italy won’t be able to share their opinion on these two topics.

The result of the online referendum, held in 2021, showed that Italian citizens were ready to legalize the personal cultivation and possession of cannabis. Last Wednesday, the judges said the proposal would have forced Italy to violate its international obligations to prevent drug trafficking.

The referendum proposal aimed to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for personal use and lower penalties for other cannabis-related crimes. For instance, the law suggested that people would no longer risk jail time for selling small amounts of cannabis.

Constitutional Court President Giuliano Amato said the referendum could be interpreted as including other narcotics, such as opium, which could not be legalized. “It amounts to making us violate multiple international obligations,” Mr. Amato added.

In response 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 have committed themselves to legal cannabis. Today is a defeat for the institutions that can no longer 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 has failed to crush the mafia for thirty years. 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!”.

Since 2016, possession of small amounts of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense, nor is growing cannabis at home for personal use since 2019. 

Cannabis enthusiasts hoped that Italy would follow the path of countries such as Malta, the first European country to legalize cannabis for personal use.

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