Within two weeks it gained the support of over 25 percent of Italy’s 946 MPs – mostly from the left and centre-left parties, but also from the centre-right and Forza Italia. However, the far-right Northern League is firmly against the proposals, with party leader Matteo Salvini telling Ansa: “I personally am in favour of legalizing prostitution because, until proved otherwise, sex isn’t bad for you, but cannabis is.”
The shift in attitude towards legalization may be motivated by the county’s €2.17 trillion debt, which stands at 132 percent of Italy’s GDP. Like in Canada and the US, politicians may be betting on legal cannabis as a way to collect more revenue, as well as diverting resources away from fighting the drug war.
A recent study published by research group lavoce.info suggested that legal cannabis use could boost Italy’s GDP by between 1.30 and 2.34 percent. Legalization is also seen as a useful step in Italy’s fight against the mafia.
The International Business Times reported that the estimated value of the marijuana market in Italy is currently €30 billion a year, the vast majority of which ends up lining the pockets of mafia drug cartels.
Under the new proposals, people over the age of 18 could cultivate up to five plants at home and growers could set up social clubs involving a maximum of 50 people and 250 plants.
These social clubs would have to provide spaces for growers to consume and share their product, but would prohibit them from profiting off the sale of their cannabis.
Commercial sales would instead be under the control of a state monopoly that would license dedicated shops.
New possession laws would allow people to store 15 grams of cannabis at home and carry around up to five grams in public. However, smoking cannabis in public would still be banned, as would smoking while driving.