At the beginning of April of this year, Marijuana.com reported that the Radicali Italiani movement in Italy was in the process of drafting a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis within the culturally influential European nation.
The Italians have legalized and implemented a medical cannabis system. For the legalization of adult-use pot, however, we were informed by the President of the Radicali movement, Antonella Soldo, that many hurdles still exist.
Marijuana.com caught up with Soldo to get a progress report on their important efforts.
“Radicali Italiani together with the Luca Coscioni Association and with all the other major anti-prohibitionist movements in Italy, promoted a popular proposal of law,” said Soldo. “We created a successful campaign (called Legalizziamo) and raised 68,000 signatures from Italian citizens asking for legal marijuana. But our proposal [has not been] discussed yet.”
As in many other countries that prohibit the sale, cultivation, or use of cannabis, the Italian jails are overflowing with non-violent, marijuana-related offenders. “Smoking marijuana is not a crime in Italy but growing and selling are. As a [result] Italian jails are full of smokers or small-time sellers,” she said. “The Italian population is ready to accept a change of behavior toward this topic. People know prohibitionism can be dangerous for a lot of citizens, especially young people.”
Although Soldo feels that everyday citizens are prepared for change, she thinks differently of the government’s position. “Political support is weak. This is just [because of] ideological reasons and the illusion that [those not in favor] are the best voters for them.”
Despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in Italy since 2007, Soldo noted that it is very difficult to find an Italian doctor who will prescribe the medicine out of fear of persecution from within the medical community. Soldo believes that stigma needs to be addressed before the government moves forward with any sort of adult-use discussion.
Soldo is thankful for countries in Italy’s backyard as well as others around the world that have legalized cannabis. She sees the global movement to reform cannabis laws a catalyst for moving the discussions forward in Italy. “Thanks to other countries’ experiences, we can study data concerning legalization, [such as] a reduction of overcrowding in jails and a reduction of minors using drugs.”
Regardless of the challenges ahead, Soldo is confident that logic will prevail when it comes to marijuana reform in Italy. “I’m optimistic but I know that it will take time. Maybe I’ll be old when it happens, but I know that it will happen.”
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