Italy may be on the verge of fully legalizing home cannabis cultivation. Cultivating cannabis is one of the funnest, most-rewarding things that a cannabis consumer or patient can do. Sure, it can be a complicated process at times and comes with a lot of ups and downs, especially for new cultivators. However, any stress that arises from trying to cultivate cannabis is counterbalanced by the joy that is created when a cultivator watches their plant(s) grow and harvest time arrives.
Unlike many other plants out there, the cannabis plant grows quickly and visual changes happen almost daily. Most experienced cannabis cultivators will be quick to point that out when asked why cultivating cannabis is so fun. Nearly every daily inspection yields new leaves during the vegetative stage, and new bud growth during the flowering stage.
Unfortunately, home cannabis cultivation is still prohibited throughout most of the world. Countries like Canada and Uruguay allow home cultivation as part of their adult-use cannabis laws. Various other countries allow limited home cultivation for medical purposes or have decriminalized home cultivation to some extent. If certain politicians in Italy have their way, home cultivation will soon be expressly permitted for all adults in their country as well.
Pending Cannabis Cultivation Legislation In Italy
This month basic text for legislation regarding the legalization of home cannabis cultivation in Italy was presented to the Justice Commission. It’s the latest attempt by lawmakers in Italy to codify a 2019 Italy Supreme Court decision that determined that prohibiting home cannabis cultivation was unconstitutional. Similar decisions have been rendered in Mexico and South Africa.
The 2019 decision in Italy stems from a case in which an Italian citizen was arrested for cultivating two cannabis plants. The court stated in its initial decision that, “at home, small-scale cultivation activities are to be considered excluded from the application of the penal code.” The decision made it clear that home cultivation should be permitted, however, it left many questions unanswered, not the least of which is what constitutes ‘small-scale cultivation.’
Clearly, the court feels that two plants constitute ‘small-scale cultivation.’ What about three plants, or four plants, etc.? Italy’s Court decision also references cultivating cannabis via ‘rudimentary methods’ as being part of what constitutes ‘small-scale cultivation.’ What do ‘rudimentary methods’ involve? These questions, and a handful of others, need to be answered via legislation.
Italy Home Cultivation Reform Does Not Go Far Enough
Setting firm rules and details regarding what exactly constitutes home cultivation in Italy is definitely a good thing. It would eliminate some, if not all, of the ambiguity regarding the 2019 Italy Supreme Court decision. It’s a particularly good idea for medical cannabis patients in Italy, being that it reduces the reliance on Italy’s insufficient supply of medical cannabis.
However, the home cultivation legislation alone does not go far enough. What Italy really needs is a robust legalized adult-use and medical cannabis industry. Many consumers and patients would benefit from legalized home cultivation, although it wouldn’t benefit everyone being that some consumers and patients are not able to cultivate their own cannabis for various reasons.
A legalized industry would help improve access for medical cannabis patients, especially those that may not qualify to become a licensed medical cannabis patient under Italy’s current rules. A legalized industry similar to Canada’s that includes dispensaries and delivery services would benefit everyone in Italy through increased economic activity, job creation, and government savings via law enforcement no longer enforcing a failed public policy. With that in mind, hopefully legalizing cannabis cultivation in Italy serves as a stepping stone rather than a ‘permanent fix.’
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Berlin (August 25-27), Zurich (August 31-September 1), and Barcelona (October 7).