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Italian Government Bans Cannabis: The Industry Is Sounding teh Alarm and Calling on the EU to Act

The Italian government plans to ban hemp cultivation, production, and sale, sparking opposition from the hemp sector. This ban, part of a new draft security law, could affect Italy’s economy, EU law, and agriculture, threatening 3,000 businesses and 15,000 jobs. Opponents argue it violates EU principles of free competition and movement of goods.



Italian government

The Italian government is introducing a ban on the cultivation, production and sale of hemp, which has met with strong opposition from the hemp sector. This ban, presented as part of a new draft security law, could have far-reaching consequences for the economy, EU law and the agricultural sector in Italy.

The cannabis sector, which includes thousands of companies and thousands of jobs, faces serious challenges that could impact the country’s economic stability and its relationship with the European Union.

Background of the situation in Italy: Why the Italian Government plans to ban cannabis

Late last month, the Italian government proposed an amendment to the safety law that prohibits the commercialization of cannabis. This proposal includes “measures concerning hemp inflorescences and products derived from them.” The amendment is currently being considered by the Chamber of Deputies, which is analyzing its content and listening to expert opinions before the debate and vote.

The main trade body for the hemp sector in Italy, Federcanapa, described the move as a “grotesque crackdown” that would make any commercial activity around industrial hemp illegal, even if the THC content is lower than 0.3%.

The response to the Italian government plan from the cannabis sector was immediate and decisive. A number of trade and agricultural groups, including Canapa Sativa Italia (CSI) and Federcanapa, expressed their opposition by writing letters to the European Commission. These letters stressed that the new amendment could violate EU rules on free competition and the free movement of goods.

According to sector representatives, this ban by the Italian government could lead to the closure of approximately 3,000 companies and the loss of 15,000 jobs, which would be a disaster for the Italian economy.

Arguments of the opponoents of the cannabis ban in Italy

One of the main arguments of opponents of the ban is the violation of EU law. According to the hemp sector, this ban violates the principles of free competition and free movement of goods, which are the foundation of the EU single market. This law allows goods legally produced and sold in one Member State to be freely sold in all other EU countries, even if national laws differ slightly.

The ban could also have a devastating impact on the Italian economy. The potential closure of thousands of companies and job losses is a real threat that may lead to significant economic losses. The cannabis sector in Italy is a dynamically growing industry that generates significant revenues and creates 15,000 jobs. This ban by the Italian government could destroy the entire supply chain and production, from growing hemp to producing products such as cosmetics, herbal medicines and dietary supplements.

Examples from other European countries show that this ban may be contrary to European legislation. For example, a 2023 French decision recognized the right to use the entire hemp plant for industrial purposes and granted provisional licenses to trade CBD- based dietary supplements.

In 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that CBD is not a drug, and in 2021 it stated that a member state cannot restrict the free movement of products containing CBD. These court decisions could set a precedent and support the Italian cannabis sector in their fight against the new ban.

The Italian Government perspective

The Italian government argues that the ban on the cultivation, production and sale of cannabis is necessary to protect public safety and health. The government emphasizes that these regulations aim to limit access to substances that can be abused or misused, which may lead to negative health effects. Authorities fear the growing “cannabis light” sector could lead to increased abuse of cannabis products and difficulties in enforcing drug laws.

The Meloni government’s previous actions towards “cannabis light” have been repeatedly criticized by supporters of the liberalization of the cannabis market. Since taking office in 2022, the Meloni administration has taken various steps to tighten cannabis regulations. Each of these steps was met with strong resistance both at home and abroad, but the government consistently pushed for tougher regulations.

The cannabis sector’s repsonse

Italy’s cannabis sector, represented by groups such as Canapa Sativa Italia (CSI) and Federcanapa, has launched an appeal to the European Commission, arguing that the new ban violates EU rules on free competition and the free movement of goods. The letter to the EC presented arguments that this ban could destroy the dynamically developing sector, leading to the closure of thousands of companies and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. These groups also point to the lack of consultation with the Sector Technical Information System (TRIS), which is mandatory in the case of regulations that may affect other EU member states.

The hemp sector’s response to the proposed regulations is intensive lobbying activities. Cannabis organizations conduct media campaigns, organize protests and engage in dialogue with politicians to draw attention to the negative effects of the ban. Their goal is to put pressure on the government and convince it to withdraw the proposed regulations.

The Italian cannabis sector is gaining support from abroad, both from other EU countries and international cannabis policy organizations. Examples from France and previous decisions of EU courts indicate the possibility of a breach of European law by the Italian government, which may prompt the European Commission to take action.

Legal aspects

The European Commission has several options for responding to the complaint from the Italian cannabis sector. It can carry out a detailed assessment to determine whether Italian rules violate EU law. If it finds a violation, the EC can send a “warning letter” to the Italian government, demanding a response within a specified period. If the answer is unsatisfactory, the EC may issue a “reasoned opinion” and ultimately refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

Previous decisions of EU courts have a significant impact on the current situation. In 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that CBD is not a drug, and in 2021 it stated that member states cannot restrict the free movement of products containing CBD. These decisions, along with other precedent-setting judgments, could provide strong support to the Italian cannabis sector in their fight against the new ban.


(Featured image by Alexey Larionov via Unsplash)

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First published in Fakty Konopne. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the articles from the originals. In case of discrepancy, the originals will prevail.

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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.