The campaign to decriminalize cannabis in Italy has gathered the 500,000 signatures required to put the issue to voters ahead of the September 30 deadline, CNN reports. The proposal must first be submitted to lawmakers before being sent to the nation’s Supreme Court of Cassation, which would have to approve the petition before it moves to the Constitutional Court which will determine whether or not it is constitutional.
The group collected half a million signatures in just one week, the campaign said on its Facebook page.
If it survives the process, the Italian president would set a date for the referendum, which would likely be next year, the report says.
Italy initially decriminalized cannabis possession in 1993 but a 2006 law tripled prison sentences for cultivation, sales, and possession until that law was reformed in 2014. Earlier this month, lawmakers decriminalized cannabis cultivation of small amounts for personal use while increasing the penalty for sales from six to 10 years, Ansa reports.
Campaign organizers said that legalizing cannabis in Italy “would put an end to unnecessary trials for small amounts of the drug and ensure that patients who use it to relieve their excruciating pain will never have to face a court again.” The group added that full legalization could lead to about 7 billion Euros in revenues (about $8.2 billion) for the nation, noting that there are about 6 million cannabis consumers in Italy.
If approved, Italy would become just the fourth European Union member state to pass the reforms, joining Portugal—which has decriminalized all drugs—the Czech Republic, and Estonia.
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