Italy court cracks down on cannabis shops in win for Salvini

May 30, 2019

ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s Supreme court on Thursday banned the sale of many widely sold cannabis derivatives, in a win for Deputy Prime Minister and far-right League leader Matteo Salvini who had declared war on the so-called “legal-weed” shops.

Under 2016 legislation, cannabis with a psychotropic active ingredient (THC) level below 0.6 percent can be freely cultivated and sold in Italy.

But according to the latest ruling, the sale of cannabis derivatives such as “oil, leaves, inflorescences and resin” does not fall within the scope of the law.

Salvini welcomed the verdict.

“We are against any drug, with no ifs or buts, and in favor of healthy fun,” the interior minister said in a statement.

The League easily came out top in Italy’s May 26 European parliamentary elections after campaigning hard on law-and-order, and the fight against drugs as well as immigration.

The ruling is likely to be a serious blow to the light weed commerce that has thrived in Italy in the last three years.

According to a study published by the University of York, the entry of legal retailers in the cannabis market in Italy has significantly reduced criminal drug trading.

Drug traffickers are losing around 200 million euros ($223 million)per year, in a market estimated to be worth some 3.5 billion euro in Italy, the study said.

The interior ministry issued a directive in May to strengthen controls on legal weed shops, after Salvini said they should be closed “one by one”.

($1 = 0.8979 euros)

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, Domenico Lusi and Giuseppe Fonte; writing by Angelo Amante; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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