Is Cannabis Legal in Italy?

The legality and discourse of cannabis in Italy is filled with ambiguity.

No one quite knows what the laws truly are and how they differentiate. In Italy, they are in two main groups: medical and recreational use. Each is with its own requirements and its own punishments. 

Medical Use

Growing, selling, and importing medical cannabis is allowed, just if authorization from the Ministry of Health is obtained. Additionally, it’s only given to companies or institutions that have good behavior and ensure the cannabis is for professional guarantees. Cannabis for medical use that has been authorized can be prescribed by physicians that, again, have authorization by the Ministry of Health. If the product asked for is not authorized in Italy but it is in another country, the Italian doctor must send a request to both the Ministry of Health and customs office to import the medicine. 

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Physicians can also prescribe magistral medicines (products prepared in a pharmacy for a patient) for cannabis products, and these can be made from imported cannabis or domestic production. Anyone caught without the authorization for this activity could face six-to-twenty years of imprisonment and a fine of 26,000 to 260,000 euros. 

Recreational Use

The gray area begins here. Selling cannabis in Italy is illegal, but it has been decriminalized. However, what some companies do is make a product with low THC content (the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana). This sale is allowed because it is based on industrial cannabis legislation. Industrial cannabis is an herb originating from the Cannabis sativa plant that contains fibers, seeds, and oils that’s used for producing things like textiles, fabrics, soap, food, and building materials. In September 2021, the Ministry of Health stated that, with authorization, industrial cannabis is allowed for the purpose of supplying pharmaceutical companies. 

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Cannabis can be used for industrial purposes if the content is lower than 0.2%. But, as stated by law 242 in 2016, if someone is caught by authorities and the content is more than 0.2% but less than 0.6%, the grower won’t have repercussions.  Italy introduced law 79 in 2014 that made cannabis a less dangerous drug. As recreational use is illegal but also decriminalized, possession of cannabis for personal use results in a fine but not a felony. The maximum amount for personal consumption is 1.5 grams, so if kept below this then there will be no serious punishments— except risking a fine. But, if caught on one more than once, harsher measures could be taken. 

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Law 79 is what sets the ambiguity. It very much depends on where you are and who is around. Sometimes there could be a verbal warning, other times a fine. But, if necessary, only carry a small amount at a time and only smoke indoors.