17th January 2022
By Roland Sebestyén

Italy’s decision to hold a cannabis referendum could very well be the first of many in Europe, as the stigma around the plant and its use for recreational purposes slowly continue to fade. However, the move is not without its risks.

The campaigners and advocates who have gathered more than 630,000 signatures to trigger the referendum on cannabis (and psilocybin, or “magic mushrooms”, for example) have already made history.

A cannabis referendum in Europe is something that was – and weirdly enough, still is – unbelievable.

However, it is now a reality and could be a pivotal turning point for the whole industry.

As Malta and Germany have announced a thorough drug policy reform that will see the first cases of cannabis legalisation in Europe, Italy’s referendum is a reminder that the mood is still shifting.

We’re not talking about whether the medical use of the plant is adequate, anymore. It is now basic knowledge.

It is not a question. The fact that we, journalists, are still reporting on new findings must tell people that “more studies should be made available before making a conclusion” is a joke and not a funny one.

There are thousands – tens of thousands – of studies available arguing that medical cannabis is largely safe and well-tolerated.

Governments, globally, must accept these findings and start educating their doctors before it’s too late for those suffering from some of the most severe medical conditions.

There are many patients who could benefit from the potential of medical cannabis – some of them children, whose parents have exhausted every other option.

Maybe equally importantly, there is now a conversation about the safe use of recreational cannabis in Europe, as well.

While it seems that the mainstream media will only report on cannabis when something unfortunate happens, others – those who are making the decisions – have started to be more careful and have begun working on a solution.

Cannabis, if you like it or not, is the most commonly used “drug” – well, after coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, fast food, etc. The list is long.

The “War on Drugs” has failed the citizens; people have been let down. Prohibition, everyone must understand, does not work.

Italy’s decision to go ahead with a referendum is a clear sign that the silent majority won’t be silent anymore.

If the referendum succeeds, the rest of Europe must follow suit – and I think it will. You can expect more countries to ask their people directly what their thoughts are on the matter, thus creating a healthy conversation.

Something that is currently unimaginable in the UK, right?

I’m sure eventually the mainstream media will join the party too, as reading the mood of the public is in tight correlation with revenue.

However, there is a risk – a massive risk. If the Italian referendum won’t succeed, prohibitionists will have a Royal Flush in their hands.

They can point out and say “see, people are not interested in the matter”, and so the status quo should be left well alone.

We all remember how devastating it was when New Zealand voted against cannabis legalisation back in 2020.

Europe needs this referendum, and it needs a pass. Cannabis is the future, and the future starts now.

It starts in Italy.

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