Italian lawmakers held initial debates yesterday on whether to legalize cannabis for recreational use, according to a report from Reuters. The plan is backed by legislators who say a formal market would strip mafia groups of some income, but conservative groups and the Roman Catholic Church stand opposed.
Under the measure, citizens would be allowed to possess 5 grams on their person and up to 15 grams at home. Individuals would be allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants, and up to 50 if part of a social group of growers. The state would license dispensaries to sell marijuana and its derivatives.
Private sales and smoking in any public space would remain outlawed.
“Legalize cannabis to take profits from the mafia, free police to do other work, control substances that are in circulation, fight consumption among adolescents, move money from traffickers’ accounts into the state’s coffers,” Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Della Vedova wrote in a Facebook post.
In June 2014, Pope Francis said “No to every type of drug use” during a drug control conference in Rome.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party and the 5-Star Movement both support the bill, but opponents lodged more than 1,300 amendments before it arrived for a discussion in the lower house of Parliament.
According to the bill text, the value of the illegal cannabis industry in Italy is estimated between $7.91 billion and $32.98 billion.
Lawmakers will re-open the debate in September.
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