The threat facing Italy’s ‘cannabis light’ business may have subsided following the creation of Italy’s new government.
The previous administration featured a prominent, hardline anti-drugs figure in the right-wing interior Matteo Salvini, who had previously declared a ‘war’ on cannabis light stores ‘street by street and shop by shop’.
Then followed a significant ruling in the The Supreme Court of Cassation which ruled that cannabis derivatives – such as oils, flower and leaves – ‘cannot be sold under any circumstances’.
Lack of Enforcement
While a small number of retailers have seen their stocks seized by police there has been no significant attempt to enforce this ruling – and that may now continue to be the case. Mr Salvini has been frozen out of Government by a new coalition of the 5-Star Movement and the centre-left Democratic Party, with both sharing a less belligerent stance on the issue.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Italy since 2006 and in 2016 a new law was introduced to support the domestic hemp growing industry. This stipulated that cannabis can be grown without a licence, providing the THC level in the plant is less that 0.6% – colloquially referred to as ‘cannabis light’ (AKA CBD Flowers, CBD Buds or Marijuana Light)
Cannabis Light Sales Outlawed
While the sale of ‘cannabis light as a smokeable product’ is outlawed , retailers have labelled their products as ‘not for human consumption’ or ‘for technical use only’ in tamper-proof packaging.
Consequently ‘cannabis light’ stores such the Easyjoint chain have sprung up, and it is now estimated there are around 3,000 stores generating an estimated 80 million Euros a year.
Many of these continue to flourish justifying their stance on an additional qualification in the Court of Cassation’s ruling which includes the following caveat; ‘unless such products are in practice devoid of effective doping’.
Nothing Has Changed
Federico Valla, co-founder Easyjoint, told the Marijuana Business Daily website that nothing has changed. Valla pointed to ‘alarmism in the media scaring those who don’t read the original sentence until the end of the document’.
The Italian cannabis light industry is still to see the full court judgement and as such it continues to operate in a regulatory vacuum, like most the European CBD industry. However, the 2016 hemp growing changes have provided a shot in the arm to the domestic industry with cultivation increasing tenfold in the last five years from 400 hectares in 2013 to approximately 4,000 in 2018, say Hanway Associates.
The medical cannabis market in Italy is now the second largest after Germany, with some 20,000 patients, which has opened the market up to overseas firms such as Aurora and Bedrocan.
Previously, all supplies had been sourced the Italian Ministry of Defense, which still produces almost 150 kg medical cannabis a year.