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Italy Relaxes Cannabis Laws - a stoner's perspective

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Fallen Cannabis Warrior
Italy Relaxes Cannabis Laws
Richard Owen, Times Online (UK), 6/27/06

Boosted by its overwhelming victory in the referendum on devolution yesterday, the centre-left Government of Romano Prodi has moved to dismantle yet another legacy of the Berlusconi era by overturning its "zero tolerance" drugs policy.

The change will restore the distinction between "hard" and "soft" drugs, and will increase the amount of cannabis a person can possess without being arrested as a suspected dealer.

During its first month in power the Centre Left, which won local elections last month as well as the general election in April, has reversed the policies of Silvio Berlusconi's five-year administration on issues from Iraq to significant infrastructure projects.

Livia Turco, the Minister of Health and a member of the former Communist Democrats of the Left, said today that she would act immediately on the amount of cannabis permitted, an administrative measure that does not require parliamentary approval.

She said the amount of cannabis allowed for personal use – 500mg – would be doubled. Nearly 10 per cent of Italians smoke cannabis regularly, according to a recent survey. A third of Italian teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 say they have smoked it at least once.

Paolo Ferrero, the Welfare Minister, who is a Communist, said he would ask Parliament to repeal the "zero tolerance" policy and re-establish the distinction between hard and soft drugs. The emphasis would be on "prevention rather than punishment" and "treatment and rehabilitation rather than repression". This would help to fight illegal drug-dealing by the Mafia, Signor Ferrero said.
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