Legalisation of ‘Cannabis Light’ Blocked by Italy’s Senate

20th December 2019

The head of Italy’s Senate has blocked the legalisation of so-called ‘Cannabis Light’ following parliament approval of the law. Parliament approved the legalisation in an amendment to the 2020 Budget last week.

Cannabis Light is the nickname given to low-THC Cannabis which has become increasingly popular in Italy. Parliamentdictated that Cannabis with a THC concentration of 0.5% or less, would be legal in the country. THC is the psychoactive component in Cannabis which causes the ‘high’ associated with the plant.

The parliament approval was celebrated by Cannabis farmers and advocates who claimed that the crackdown on the industry under former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, was a ‘witch hunt’.

However, the president of the Senate Maria Elisabetta Caselatti claimed that the amendment was “inadmissible” on technical grounds. President Caselatti is a member of the far-right party, Forza Italia, an ally of Salvini’s League, but claims that her decision was not politically motivated.

Casellati told members of the Italian parliament:

“If you think this measure is so important for the majority, then propose a bill”.

The amount of hemp Cannabis plants grown in Italy has increased from 400 hectares in 2013 to 4000 hectares last year. Prior to Salvini’s crackdown on the Cannabis Light market, dispensaries selling the low-THC product had popped up all over the country.

In the 1940s, Italy was the second-largest producer of industrial hemp. However, after the Second World War, the country’s hemp policy was changed, banning the industry completely.

In 2017, the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies reiterated that the cultivation of Hemp was legal. What’s more, cultivation did not require licenses or authorisation from the government. Under this policy, Italy adopted the 0.2% THC limit of the EU. However, plants which did not exceed 0.6% THC are tolerated in the country.

It is unclear what the future legislation around Cannabis Light will be. The decision by the head of the Senate cannot be appealed.


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