Critics say the court stifled the democratic process after a petition gathered 630.000 signatures for cannabis legalization. Well above the threshold for a referendum on this issue. It came on the same day that the constitutional court also denied a referendum on euthanasia.
Benedetto Della Vedova, secretary of the centrist party, said the court had deprived Italy of a public debate and electoral process for cannabis reform and accountability.”
Supporters of the referendum believed that legalizing cannabis, which they say is no more harmful than legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco, would have made it possible to tackle prison overcrowding and focus policing on violent criminal organizations.
Currently, the cultivation of cannabis plants carries a prison sentence of two to six years, despite the fact that possession of small amounts of the drug has not been punishable since 2016.
Against legalization of cannabis
Opponents of the referendum project, including Matteo Salvini and Fratelli d'Italia leader Giorgia Meloni, have argued that decriminalization could encourage the use of other drugs. It is a blow to legalization and decriminalization proponents in Europe, where a number of European states — including Spain, Germany and Italy — have relaxed penalties for possession of the drug.
The decision comes just weeks after Malta became the first European country to legalize both the possession of small amounts of drugs and the cultivation of up to four plants at home. The island nation stepped in to prevent minor cannabis offenses from being punished too heavily.
Owen Bonnici, the minister responsible for the law, told Euronews last week in an interview that Europe should follow Malta's lead.
Read more euronews.com (Source, EN)