THE ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
The situation of cannabis in Italy is still very confusing, not least because the discussion of possible legalization does not seem to have had any positive consequences for the fate of growers and consumers who are still being prosecuted and incarcerated for “crimes” that have no victims.
Even the situation of medical cannabis in Italy has not improved much since 2007 when Health Minister Ms. Livia Turco allowed the import of medical cannabis from the Netherlands. Originally, but with much red tape, a patient could obtain medical cannabis for 10€ per gram whereas now the price can reach 40€. A similar situation has also occurred in Germany during the past few months.
Moreover, the recent decisions of the Italian Minister of Health Patrizia Lorenzin, a prohibitionist hard-liner, illustrate a clear example of the cannabis paradox. The same Ministry that should facilitate access to medical cannabis is now trying to levy large fines (6000€) on 8 Italian pharmacies, accusing them of being Internet hotspots for medical cannabis counselling and distribution. This circumstance is considered as a crime of advertisement of illicit drugs. As a consequence, Dr. Edoardo Alfinito and 7 of his colleagues are contesting the allegation in court.
In the meanwhile the political debate about recreational cannabis has resulted in a growing public interest for cannabis legalisation, there are also some critical voices by some activists that traditionally organise interesting and well attended street demonstrations in Rome (www.millionmarijuanamarch.it) and in Pisa (see FB :Osservatorio Antiproibizionista-Canapisa Crew) and in other towns like Torino.
These demonstrations are apparently not very sympathetic toward the legalisation efforts. They champion the principle of the self-determination but are little interested in some sort of inclusion of other subjects. That’s their strength and also their weakness.
The pro-cannabis section of the general population has not yet reached the tipping point, according the Dipsos report published by the Legal Cannabis Parliamentary Intergroup at www.cannabislegale.org, but it’s surely only a question of time until a majority of Italians see the light.
Cannabis is considered a divisive subject even by some sectors of the Left, but in the quiet conservative and catholic south-Tirolean town of Brixen-Bressanone, the municipality has displayed a big hemp labyrinth at the main square. That’s good news, but as ENCOD local CSC activist Hans Peter Gruenfelder reports, the local government is avoiding any publicity on the situation. That is no doubt due to the political controversies that surround the plant and the opposition of the Pope.
Similarly, in Rome’s Parliament the cannabis issue has been recently treated like plutonium. It nearly fractured the Democrats into opposing factions, and as a consequence they finally decided on the 26th of July that instead of open and frank debate they were better off by voting down the proposal, launched 4 years ago by 220 MP’s, to introduce a partial state cannabis monopoly. This was also requested by the Anti-mafia commission in order to regulate the cannabis market and production.
Worse yet, an unprecedented inter-parliamentary prohibitionist majority of both government and opposition forces decided to hinder the parliamentary discussion on cannabis legalization and restrict the debate on medical cannabis.
Mr. Daniele Farina , head of the Justice Commission, declared that “ the draft is light years away from the people’s reality and the improvement of the regulation of medical cannabis could have been better handled by the Minister of Health for instance. We will work to change this situation, trying to overcome a totally backwards proposal that is in discord with the society and the scientific evidence.”
The discussion is at this time being hindered by the upcoming political elections that always disrupt bipartisan activities, and so for the present legislature we can expect little or nothing. But the discussion will come up again after the elections, when another law proposal on cannabis is to be presented: a popular initiative supported by 59000 citizens, according to Luca Marola, cannabis activist of the Radical Party and Radio Journalist.
As a result of the unstable situation many Italians working on cannabis research and development left the country. Many of them wandered to Spain as a result of the liberal situation there. This migration flux, once directed to the Netherlands and now to Spain or to the US. This might remind one of the German specialised workers leaving for France for similar reasons, a circumstance that led to the building of the first Workers International organizations. This sort of migration represents a positive spin-off for the economies of the destination countries and some further impoverishment for the political and economical situation in the country of origin.
In the meantime Giancarlo Cecconi of the Association Ascia and Cannabis Info Point manager has declared that “we should finally express our anger for if it is true that the henchman is gone, the pitch is still there!”
By Enrico Fletzer