Italy is a country that is close to our hearts at Paradise Seeds. We have always had a great reception in this country and over the years we have seen the Italian cannabis scene grow stronger and stronger.
In June we were back in Italy to exhibit at the IndicaSativa trade show in Bologna, which was another great event that displays the sophistication of the country’s scene. Italian growers are very knowledgeable and embrace all aspects of cannabis including recreational, medical and even the culinary (of course!).
At the show we spoke to many Italians about how things are developing and the news was very encouraging. It appears as if there is a real appetite for change, even if the politicians have very different views about which direction the country should take. While many still want hard penalties for cannabis users, a new breed of politicians like Marco Cappato advocates weed legalization with direct action stunts such as sowing cannabis seeds in the Duca d'Aosta square in Milan. The Radicali Italiani movement has been working with other pro-legalization parties to push a legalization bill through parliament.
Meanwhile, the Direzione Nazionale Antimafia (Italian Antimafia Bureau) has requested of the parliament to legalize cannabis in a move they believe would undermine the profits of organized crime, an argument that was used in Uruguay ahead of legalization.
The Legal Situation
Since 2013 medical cannabis has been legal in Italy as a prescribed medication. Possession is still a criminal offence, and while interpretation of the law varies from region to region, small amounts are generally treated as a misdemeanour.
Italy has its own particular legal twists on cannabis cultivation. You can grow a cannabis plant, but once it flowers it is illegal, which is similar to the law in Austria. You can also consume cannabis so long as the THC count does not exceed 0.6% – which means that CBD heavy flowers are technically legal. As well as an increase in grow shops and seed sales, Italy’s first ‘clone shop’ opened in Milan this summer with over 150 varieties of cannabis plant in clone form.
Military Medical Grow
Medical cannabis is big in Italy (strains such as our own Pandora and earthy Durga Mata). As more people become educated to the benefits of the marijuana plant for health purposes, the stigma of cannabis as a ‘drug’ is shrinking. Helping to make this adjustment in cultural perception is the well publicized official medical cannabis grow operation being conducted by the military.
The medical marijuana crop is being grown at a chemical and pharmaceutical plant in Florence and supplied for sale in pharmacies (a program overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policy). However, at 30 Euros per gram it is too expensive for many patients who have little choice but to grow their own illegally or buy from the black market.
As a sign of the times, the vibrant and diverse aspects of the Italian cannabis and hemp industry was captured in a reportage feature in National Geographic magazine earlier this year. It makes the point that Italy has a long history of growing hemp and cannabis for consumption. However, after many years in the shadows, it looks as if the Italian scene is preparing to bloom in a new sunny era!