LEGAL STATUS OF CANNABIS
1. Cannabis use (recreational and/or medicinal)
Personal use and possession of small quantities of cannabis is not a criminal offense but is still punished with administrative sanctions such as fines, suspension of driving licence, suspension of passport, and others.
The quantity of cannabis is considered small if it doesn’t exceed 500 milligrams of the active ingredient (THC). Those who are found with small quantities of drugs can be sent to drug treatment programs.
Law enforcement officials can search someone’s place (homeplace, workplace, car, etc.) if they have sound reasons to presume that any quantity of an illicit drug is to be found there. If they decide that the search is necessary/urgent, which is often the case, they don’t need a search warrant.
Personal possession of more than 500 milligrams THC is automatically equated to drug dealing. In that case users are charged of drug dealing and enter the penal system – they have to defend themselves with a lawyer and prove that they are not dealers.
Drug dealing is punished with 6 to 20 years of imprisonment. In case of small drug dealing (such as a few grams) the punishment is 1 to 6 years of imprisonment.
Medical use of cannabis is not provided for by the law. However some patients receive registered products such as Bedrocan from the Netherlands via the Italian Health Ministry.
Growing cannabis is prosecuted as a criminal offence.
Selling any quantities of cannabis is a criminal offence (drug dealing).
People giving cannabis to someone else for free (sharing a joint with someone else) were prosecuted. This behavior was considered a criminal offence in some cases, depending on how judges interpret the law.
4. Provision of seeds, tools to produce and consume cannabis etc.
Strictly speaking seeds are not illegal because they don’t contain THC. However, in many cases people were prosecuted just because they had seeds.
5. Production and distribution of hemp products
Cannabis growing for industrial use is permitted with special permissions, but problems have often arisen with police forces. The same is true for shops selling hemp products.
(Updated 11 November 2009)
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