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Italian signatures calling for referendum on cannabis have been verified

Divorce and abortion legalisation have also been introduced through popular referendums.

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Italian referendum: The Italian flag and buildings

Italian officials have confirmed that activists in Italy have collected enough signatures for a referendum in the Spring on cannabis.

Last year, activists in Italy handed in over 630,000 signatures calling for a referendum on cannabis. The Supreme Court of Cassation has confirmed that this is enough to trigger a referendum that could be held in Spring.

There is just one more step before this happens. The legality of the proposal’s provisions must be debated by a separate constitutional court.

The verdict will be issued on 15 February before a date for the referendum is confirmed. The purpose of this debate will be to decide if a yes verdict of the referendum would challenge the constitution, the Italian fiscal system or any international treaties.

On their Facebook page, the activist group calling for the referendum said: “Today the Court of Cassation informed us that the signatures we delivered in October are sufficient to call the #ReferendumCannabis next spring. It is wonderful news that we have been waiting for days. Now the last, fundamental opinion is that of the Constitutional Court which will be expressed on February 15th to fix the date of the vote. While we are waiting for the final ok we cannot sit idle, so we are starting to organise a national mobilisation to inform all citizens that cannabis is better legal.”

Italian law

In Italy, a popular referendum can be called if a petition secures over 500,000 signatures before a September 30 deadline. Campaigners from several pro-cannabis organisations and political parties managed to gather 500,000 in one week. If the public votes to decriminalise then it could mean the purchase, sale and cultivation of the drug will become legal under Italian law.

The referendum would seek to amend a 1990 law that makes cannabis sales punishable with two to six months in prison. It also makes possession punishable with the suspension of driving licenses. Although Italy initially decriminalised recreational cannabis in 1993, a 2006 law introduced penalties on consumers and tripled prison sentences until it was altered in 2014.

Under current law, consumers can be fined and have their personal documents such as a driving licence suspended.

The campaigners state that legalising cannabis could create thousands of new jobs and increase tax revenue for the state.

Referendum success

Supreme Court of Cassation has now verified the legitimacy of all signatures while the Constitutional Court will ensure the referendum question is in line with the Italian constitution. If all the signatures are validated then the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, can establish a date for the referendum. Italian citizens may vote yes to remove the article of narcotic law that criminalises cannabis cultivation for personal use and the penalties for possession.

If it is approved then Italy would become the fourth EU member state to legalise along with Portugal, the Czech Republic and Estonia. Italy was one of the first states to legalise medical cannabis in 2007.

The campaigners wrote on their Facebook page: “More than 500,000 online signatures in just a week for the #ReferendumCannabis. We celebrate them by thanking you one by one because this is a first and not just in Italy.

“But now the race continues, to secure this finish line we have very few days to collect many more. So with a smile, we keep sharing, explaining, taking to the streets, discussing because we know exactly what we want: legal cannabis and Italy free from the mafia.”

It is estimated that around 6 million Italians use cannabis. The European Drug Report stated around 1.8 per cent of adults in the European Union used cannabis daily. A recent poll has also shown that 47.8 per cent of those who participated are in favour of legalising cannabis in Italy.

Divorce and abortion legalisation in Italy was also achieved through the referendum process.

Cannabis cultivation

In 2021, it was announced that Italy could legalise the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants at home as part of reforms approved by the Lower House’s Justice Committee. While it legalised small-scale cultivation, the penalties for selling may increase from six to ten years.

Speaking with Cannabis Wealth about the prospect of cultivation in the home being legalised, Guido Silvestri, a board member for Volt Italia explains the reality of medical cannabis in Italy. Volt is a pan-European party that supports cannabis legalisation in all 30 countries where it is active.

“In principle in Italy, since 2006, doctors have been able to prescribe magisterial preparations containing cannabis-based active substances for medical use. The practice is unfortunately very different and cumbersome for patients.

“Doctor is never obliged to prescribe this therapy and many refuse even to consider cannabis as a therapeutic option because they do not know it. Even when the patient finds one of the few pharmacies ready to prepare cannabis (only 600 out of 19,000 total in Italy), they will likely experience the continuous cannabis shortage linked to very high demand and little supply.”

He added: “Many patients are therefore forced to buy cannabis on the illegal market or to self-cultivate it, with the risk of criminal investigation and trial, or administrative sanctions. In September, a proposal of law to decriminalise the home cultivation of a limited number of plants was eventually approved by a commission of the Parliament.”

He explains that there is already a backlash to the proposals to legalise: “Prohibitionist politicians have announced an avalanche of amendments to immediately and definitively crush the proposal. At this point, about a year and a half after the dissolution of the Houses, there is a high risk that Parliament will not be able to approve a text definitively, leaving patients unprotected and 6 million cannabis consumers in the hands of the Mafia.”

Guido commented on the petition: “Associations like Meglio Legale, Antigone, “Luca Coscioni”, together with few small and new parties, like Volt, Possibile, that supported cannabis legalisation in Italy, decided to try to collect the 500,000 signatures needed to set a referendum that eliminates the crime of cultivation and cancels administrative sanctions. For the first time in Italy, it is possible to collect signatures digitally; this is an innovation introduced only a few weeks ago.”

He concluded: “This is likely the consequence of the strong potential of the digital signature and the large distance between the sentiment of the population and the perception of the traditional political parties that seat in the parliament. The Italian population will eventually have the possibility to be informed and vote on cannabis-based on facts and not old ideologies.”

Politics & policy

Cross-party group established for recreational cannabis in Europe

#LegaliseitEP is focusing on human rights-based cannabis policy – “it is a matter of freedom”.

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Cross-party group established for recreational cannabis in Europe
Home » News » Politics & policy » Italian signatures calling for referendum on cannabis have been verified

The group, made up of MEPs from five different parties, has formed to facilitate discussions around amending policy for the personal use of cannabis in Europe.

As countries such as Malta, Germany and Luxembourg have announced progressive amendments to cannabis policy, the informal interest group is supporting human rights-based policies for the personal use of cannabis.

The group is made up of the MEPs Luke Flanagan of Ireland, The Left; Mikuláš Peksa of the Czech Republic, Greens; Monica Semedo of Luxembourg, Renew; Cyrus Engerer of Malta, S&D; and, Dorian Rookmaker of The Netherlands, ECR.

Read more: Malta officially legalises cannabis in historic first for Europe

In an open letter to 705 members of the European Parliament, the group states that Member States should have the autonomy to create cannabis policy that reflects the needs and specificities of their society. 

As well as encouraging the MEPs to join the group, the open letter also calls for more information sharing between Member States regarding recreational cannabis and for fact-based discussion on cannabis, which the group says has been subject to misinformation for a long time.

The letter states: “Due to outdated and unpredictable patchwork of legislation, citizens across the EU are often finding themselves being forced to turn to the black market or even worse, imprisoned for being in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. This does not reflect the level of freedom we have come to expect from living in Europe.

“We cannot deny that with new legislation coming forward within EU Member States, we are likely to find ourselves facing repercussions at an EU level. As MEPs, we want to build on this momentum and create a cross-party interest group within the European Parliament, where we will share best practices, talk to experts, organise hearings and conferences, as well as debate the situation of personal use of cannabis within the Union.”

Monica Semendo, of Luxembourg’s Renew, stated: “I am in favour of the legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products because it is a matter of freedom. 

“It’s a matter of one’s own choice. And if someone decides to consume cannabis, they should have access to a safe product. 

“We have to focus on transparent information, education programmes and risk reduction, especially for young adults.”

Cyrus Engerer of Malta’s S&D, stated: “People should have the right to take autonomous informed decisions about their lives, including whether or not they use cannabis. 

“Let’s talk basics. No one should go to jail over a joint. And now for some real talk – many people still are. 

“Where I come from – Malta – we are the first European country to fully legalise cannabis use Germany, and Luxembourg will soon follow it. It’s time that we talk about cannabis and our personal freedoms and rights.”

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Politics & policy

Greenrise welcomes cannabis policy developments in Germany

The company is preparing for the potential legalisation of adult-use cannabis in Germany.

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Greenrise welcomes cannabis policy developments in Germany
Home » News » Politics & policy » Italian signatures calling for referendum on cannabis have been verified

Greenrise Global Brands has welcomed recent developments in Germany as it awaits guidelines from the German Government in the coming months.

Germany’s “traffic light” coalition made plans to legalise recreational cannabis official in November 2021 with the publication of its agreement. 

The coalition, which includes the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and The Greens, agreed to legalise the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for “pleasure purposes”. With a focus on health-oriented cannabis policy, the development aims to move consumers away from the black market, control quality of products and ensure the protection of minors.

This year, five hearings are planned throughout to discuss the legislative process on the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes, with the first meeting being held in June, at the Federal Ministry of Health.

The Federal Government is anticipated to submit a draft law to Parliament (Bundestag) by the end of 2022.

Read more: Germany to begins consultations for cannabis legalisation

Greenrise Global, which has a wholly-owned medical cannabis subsidiary, AMP Alternative Medical Products GmbH that imports EU-GMP medical cannabis from within the European Union and elsewhere and has well-established relationships with pharmacies and clinics across Germany, has welcomed the development.

Supporter of the health benefits of cannabis and a keystone shareholder and director of Greenrise, as well as co-founder of CannaCare Health, Frank Otto, commented: “The consultation process shows that Germany is no longer talking about whether to legalise adult-use, but how. 

“We also believe that there will be a domino effect as European countries are watching very closely as Europe’s largest economy joins Canada and California in legalising cannabis for adult use.”

AMP Alternative Medical Products has reported that preliminary unaudited sales for first half year 2022 increased 14 per cent to €268,479 compared to sales of €236,399 during the first half year of 2021.

Greenrise acquired 51 per cent of CannaCare, which sells CBD wellness products through traditional retail channels in Germany and German-speaking markets in Europe, at the beginning of Q2. The company has reported that preliminary Q2 unaudited sales for CannaCare increased 187 per cent to €474,000 compared to Q1 2022 sales of €165,000.

Managing director of AMP and director of Greenrise, Dr Stefan Feuerstein, said: “The exceptional sales growth from CannaCare during the second quarter confirms our strategy of investing in CBD in addition to medical cannabis as we prepare for the potential legalisation of adult-use in Germany. 

“We look forward to the government providing guidelines in the coming months, which will provide certainty on how and when to position our businesses. 

“We expect pharmacies to play a significant role and are preparing our pharmacy customers for the possibility of selling adult-use products as well as soon as legislation is in effect. We also realigned our medical cannabis business by streamlining our medical sales team, offering more pharmaceutical cannabis products to doctors to prescribe and are preparing to import high-THC flowers from several European cultivators.”

CFO of CannaCare, Dr Tilman Spangenberg, commented: “Greenrise’s investment allowed CannaCare to launch its CBD products in three leading German drugstore chains, which dramatically increased sales in a very short period of time. 

“We expect the full impact of this sales channel to unfold in the third as well as fourth quarter. Our priorities for the remainder of this year are to grow CannaCare’s sales and operating cash flow positive by introducing new sales channels and adding additional drugstore chains.”

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Politics & policy

Switzerland’s amendment on medical cannabis comes into force

The Swiss government announced in June that rules for medical cannabis will be simplified.

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Switzerland’s amendment on medical cannabis comes into force
Home » News » Politics & policy » Italian signatures calling for referendum on cannabis have been verified

Today, 1 August 2022, Switzerland’s amendments to its Narcotics Act come into force, which will allow patients in the country easier access to medical cannabis.

Switzerland has now joined a number of countries across Europe that are enabling patient access to cannabis by removing its ban on the medicine. 

Previously, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) required exceptional approval for use of medical cannabis. This reduced patient access to cannabis as administrative processing was unable to keep up with the demand from potential patients.

Read more: Switzerland approves pilot for regulated cannabis sales

The use of medical cannabis will now be subject to regular control measures. The defined limit of at least 1.0% total THC content remains unchanged. 

Under the new amendments, medical prescriptions will no longer require an exceptional permit from the FOPH. Cannabis will be reallocated from Switzerland’s Narcotics List Ordinance list from List d, which is prohibited narcotics, to List a, which is all substances subject to control measures), along with preparations such as extracts, resins, oils and tinctures. 

Read more: Cannabis regulation changes across Switzerland and Luxembourg

Dronabinol and THC will now also be included List a “provided there is an intended medical purpose”.

The new amendment enables doctors to make the decision on whether a patient requires a medical cannabis prescription, speeding up the process of accessing the medicine for patients.  

The medicine will now enter Switzerland’s pharmaceutical system and controlled by the health authority SwissMedic, which will be taking over the role of the country’s Cannabis Agency for the cultivation of medical cannabis.

Under the amendments, there will be a two-stage authorisation procedure, which will require an establishment licence and an individual licence for the cultivation of medical cannabis. 

SwissMedic has stated that the handling of cannabis for non-medical purposes continues to be generally prohibited and will continue to require an exemption from the FOPH. 

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