Italian Hemp Sector Braces in the Wake of Latest Reforms to the Law on Narcotics

A reform introduced by Justice and Home Affairs jeopardizes the activities of hemp farmers, processors and distributors.
Written by 
Luca Marani, Cannabis Educator.
|Last Updated:

Automatic application of pre-trial detention in prison for minor narcotics offences. The Italian Justice and Home Affairs departments are working on tightening a law, a measure that has been announced as a renewal of the fight against drugs. The solution of the Ministers Alfonso Bonafede and Luciana Lamorgese is causing concern and worries among farmers and traders in the hemp supply chain. The Honorable Ministers did not consider the impact that this rule would have on the Italian hemp farming sector, on its production, distribution and marketing. To this date, due to a regulatory vacuum, thousands of farmers and traders are already being illegally investigated for presumption of trade for the purpose of distribution. This rule would, of course, even allow their preventive arrest.

Arrest first, investigate later

Almost all of these investigations eventually conclude with all charges dropped. However, the period of investigations and the hypothesis of indictments puts entrepreneurs and companies to test. The new regulations provided for by the Ministers of Justice and Interior could throw them immediately and directly into jail. But let us analyze, instead, the strictly procedural aspect. The modification of the provision of Article 73, which accounts for misdemeanor in matter of narcotics, clashes with the absurd pretense of wanting to apply, always and in any case, the precautionary detention in prison. It should be remembered that, in Italy, the punishment for the act of minor entity is imprisonment from six months to four years.

Pre-trial detention in prison, as a limitation of personal freedom, must meet precise criteria for the choice of measures, as set out in Article 275 of the Italian Criminal Procedure Code. This Article also states that the precautionary detention measure cannot be applied if the judge considers that, at the outcome of the trial, the imprisonment sentence imposed will not exceed three years.

As announced by the media, the automatic application of pre-trial detention in prison for minor narcotics offences would only further clog up the courts. It would also maliciously and forcefully affect the justice system in a such a way that even those who are not criminals would suffer serious consequences. Many Italian CBD shops are under investigation or being brought to court because of the presumption of illicit activities and, in a legally warped fashion, the prosecution flips the burden of proof and shifts it on the defense. Italian courts of law are slow and overburdened, and many small businesses in the Italian hemp sector would not be able to endure the lengthy suspension of their commercial activities that the rhythms of Italian court would imply.

A measure that raises political concern

This reform of the law on narcotics raised concerns even among politicians coming from the right. Benedetto Della Vedova, the secretary of the +Europa (More Europe) party, who, although being the leader of Italy’s legalizers lobby, has a right-wing and conservative past and career, has been very vocal about his worries about this ruling. As he declared on social media, his group is waiting to read the text that the Ministers Lamorgese and Bonafede will make. He adds that, from the press previews, it seems that this “great idea” of the executive will only have the effect of raising the risk of sending tens of thousands of young and not-so-young people and entrepreneurs to jail. He added that not even during the government of far-right conservative Matteo Salvini had Italy come up with something as strict and reactionary as this, and that, as usual in Italy, the approach of law and politics is averse to small business owners, forcing them to go through all the indirectly related financial tribulations and unjustified verifications by a legal system that first imprisons, then asks questions.

Luca Marani
Luca Marani
Cannabis Educator
Luca Marani is an educator and content creator from Italy. He graduated in 2017 from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, with a Master of Arts in Political Philosophy, writing a dissertation on what was the state of the medical cannabis legislative framework in Spain at the time, and how it affected the rights of the Spanish medical cannabis users community to dignity and quality of life.

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