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Italy: Is cannabis light really banned?

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On the 30th of May, the decision of the Supreme Court of Cassation in Italy was known, regarding products with low THC content derived from industrial hemp. As reported by CannaReporter, the decision was to withdraw the products from the market, however experts are confident that little will change in the industry.

In 2017, a law came into force in Italy to promote the cultivation of hemp, which made it possible for a range of products made from industrial cannabis to appear on the market, which quickly became popular as “light cannabis”, by the interpretation of various experts that these products could contain minimal amounts of THC.

Judicial decision

The language in question says that the sale of cannabis derivatives such as “leaves, flowers, oil and resin” does not fit the permissions that Law 242/2016 grants, which are the cultivation of cultivars included in the “Common Catalog of Varieties and Species”. Union” (Article 1) and a limited list of possible uses (Article 2) which does not include the uses mentioned above.

However, the end of the court document contains an exception that apparently allows the marketing of products that do not have an intoxicating or narcotic effect (in Italian: “saline che tali prodotti siano in concrete privi di efficacia drugante”). This may be a sufficient condition for the industry to continue operating as it is, but there is no certainty on this issue.

The full decision, which will answer and clarify all these questions, has not yet been made public, something that is expected to happen in the coming weeks. This May 30 court ruling came just weeks after a pledge by Matteo Salvini, deputy prime minister and interior minister, to close all "light cannabis" stores.

Legal Implications

Giuseppe Libutti, a cannabis lawyer, told MJBizDaily: “The “Cannabis light” business is not provided for in the civil law (law 242/2016) nor in the criminal law (dpr 309/1990) used for the judicial decision and for justify this decision. This means that, theoretically, non-intoxicating cannabis products can be sold, even if they do not originate from certified seeds from the EU catalogue.”

“With respect to the 'efficacia drugante' exception that the decision makes at the end, medical science has established that the limit is 0,5% THC and has been recognized in previous rulings of this Supreme Court,” Libutti said, clarifying that since the products products remain below this threshold – as they are now – sales should not be prohibited.

“Right now, we have to remain calm and wait for the full version (of the decision) to fully understand the impacts. Everything else is speculation,” he said.

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