Italy is considering ending marijuana prohibition

People love Italy for its pizza and pasta, Now low and behold, in the future this might very well become... Pizza, Pasta and... Pot! Actually, for Mary Jane lovers like you and me it should be Pot, pizza and pasta -of course.

Proposal for legalizing marijuana

For the first time in history the Italian Parliament recently gathered to discuss a proposal for legalizing marijuana. The proposed bill was similar to the one passed by voters in Colorado in 2012. Italian citizens would be allowed to grow up to 5 plants for their own personal use, they would be allowed to have up to 15 grams of marijuana at home, and have up to 5 grams of marijuana on them out in public. Cannabis clubs would also be legal, so up to 50 people could get together and smoke. This also means that the transfer of marijuana to these "clubs" would be legal as long as it's not for profit.

Taxed at a rate of 5%

Marijuana would be taxed at a rate of 5%. This bill doesn't mean people could sell, buy, or smoke weed in public. However, it does mean the Italian government could start issuing licenses allowing it to be sold and grown similarly to tobacco. The tax would help fund Italy's effort to constrain illegal drug trafficking.

National Anti-Mafia Directorate

This turning point in Italy came about this year when the National Anti-Mafia Directorate (DNA), the department that is in charge of fighting organized crime, indicated that reforms were needed to decriminalize cannabis related crimes. In DNA's annual report it said that security forces couldn't afford diverting resources any longer to fighting cannabis seeing as its consumption was increasing even with security forces" best efforts.

Influence other countries around the world

Even though Italy hasn't ever really been considered a pillar of drug reform, the new proposal could influence other countries around the world that is contemplating policies that are similar. This new bill was organized by Senator Benedetto Della Vedova that brought together senators and representatives from different parties to write a draft that was signed last year September by 294 representatives.

Della Vedova

Senator Della Vedova said in a statement, "Prohibitionist policies have failed in their impossible aim to eliminate the use of drugs and have not reduced the illegal market for cannabis." He continues to say, "Instead, organized crime has controlled the whole chain: production, processing and sales. By legalizing cannabis, the State would cut off substantial income from organized crime and transfer the illegal profits to the State budget."

IPSOS Public Affairs

The citizens of Italy agree with legalization according to a recent survey conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs. The survey showed that 83% of Italians believe the current prohibition laws are ineffective, and 60% believe that the Italian Parliament should consider policy alternatives. On top of that, greater than 70% of Italians think that the country should implement a regulation model in likeness to the one in Colorado.

New Centre-Right Party's Enrico Costa

Unfortunately, the idea of legalizing weed to fight organized crime isn't agreeable to everyone. New Centre-Right Party's Enrico Costa doesn't understand what the bill is trying to achieve. He says, "Legalizing drug addiction to get back the money the country spends in trying to prevent it? Italy has more pressing issues." I personally don't think Enrico knows the difference between smoking cannabis and being addicted to drugs.

Centre-right Catholic lawmakers

Other groups opposed to the bill is an alliance of centre-right Catholic lawmakers. Group leader, Maurizio Lupi said that they have, "presented 1,300 amendments to say no the absurd draft." He continues to say, "We are completely opposed to the legislation, to the idea of sending out the message that it is alright to freely smoke a joint without a problem. Lupi is opposed to the bill on both grounds of health and public safety.

Legally regulating the marijuana market

However, the supporters of the new bill say the criticism is baseless. The draft reads that, "The experience of states that have started legally regulating the marijuana market shows that the number of consumers has not increased, and that there has been no (negative social or health impact." What does increase, though, is tax returns. This makes sense seeing that about 3 million kilos (6.6 million pounds) of cannabis are consumed in Italy annually as reported by Nativa, an Italian association.

2 years for the text to be approved

As if you didn't have reason enough to visit Italy; you might be able to get blasted and treat the munchies with divine Italian food. However, don't book your ticket quite yet. Parliamentary discussion on the proposal probably won't start until after the summer and it could take up to 2 years for the text to be approved.