In an important judgement that could have significant implications for the future of the country’s cannabis laws, Italy’s highest court of appeal, the Supreme Court of Cassation, has ruled that growing cannabis for personal use is not a crime.

After hearing an appeal from a man who had previously been found guilty of possession of drugs, it was the judge’s view, that due to the circumstances of there being no evidence to suggest the man was cultivating the plants for financial gain, or to pass on to anybody else, that there was no crime committed.

In their ruling, which was published last Friday, the 24th of February 2023, the judges commented on the crude methods used by the defendant to grow his plants, which the court agreed would not produce very much cannabis or cannabis of high quality.

With the acknowledgement that the defendant was a person who used cannabis regularly, and had done so for a long time. The judges recognised that no criminal activity had taken place and that there were no victims. 

Just over 12 months ago in February last year, the same Supreme Court ruled against the proposal by activists to hold a nationwide referendum to decriminalise the possession and cultivation of cannabis for recreational use. 

In September 2021 a number of pro-cannabis groups joined together and launched a ballot to petition the government to hold the referendum. 

Over 500,000 people signed the ballot, however,  judges ruled decided that the referendum question proposed by the ballot was incorrectly worded and would have applied to all narcotics, not just cannabis.

The ruling last week, and another similar ruling by another Italian court which decided that using the whole hemp plant was justified, thus becoming more closely aligned with current EU regulations, marks a notable change of direction by the courts and their attitude towards recreational cannabis consumption. 

The decision by the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio was welcomed by hemp and cannabis campaigners who have long called for a more pragmatic approach to the regulation of the industrial hemp industry.

The Italian rulings on hemp and cultivating cannabis for personal use comes in the same month as a French court ruling that stated CBD is not a drug and lifted the ban on its sale.

In recent years many European countries have implemented changes and made plans for the future surrounding the use of recreational and medicinal cannabis, including Malta, Spain, Germany, Czezchia, the UK, Portugal and others. The ruling last week in Italy’s Supreme Court adds, what some would say, is another positive development in the continent’s cannabis law

Growing cannabis is not a crime, rules Italy’s Supreme Court

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