Italian Interior Minister Takes Extreme Anti-Cannabis Stance, but Analysts See it as Empty Rhetoric
It is no secret that marijuana has its fair share of detractors. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some people feel that cannabis is a highly dangerous, addictive substance that ruins people’s health and lives. As Marijuana Business Daily shows, some of these individuals hold positions of power, such as Matteo Salvini, who holds the positions of Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
Salvini’s stance on marijuana is so extreme that it can only be described as “militant”. His apparent hatred for the drug and his resulting rhetoric makes Jeff Sessions seem liberal in comparison.
But what particularly makes Salvini seem so unreasonable is that his country’s cannabis cannot cause intoxication. Bred for its CBD content from hemp (a member of the cannabis genus), Italian law states that no legal cannabis can contain more than 0.6% THC and must not come from the marijuana variant of cannabis. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, but is decriminalized.
Despite Salvini’s dangerous ignorance on CBD and the miniscule THC content of the extracts being sold, critics feel that his vow to fight and destroy legal cannabis sales is meritless.
The target of Salvini’s ire just shows how his vendetta is against the cannabis plant, not the perceived health risks that are typical anti-marijuana talking points.
According to an April article in The New York Times, Italy’s interest in cannabis was renewed following a 2016 law intended to help hemp farmers, but it simultaneously failed to regulate hemp flower. Consequently, it left a legal loophole that technically allowed shops to sell hemp, while stating that the hemp was not meant for consumption.
Of course, this does not stop consumers from smoking the plant or using it in edibles. But given that cannabis light contains no more than 0.2% THC, there really should not be a problem – except for people like Matteo Salvini. Because the sale of hemp in dispensaries lies in a legal grey area, law enforcement can investigate and shut down these establishments.
“A War Starts Today”
Salvini wasted no time in taking action. Despite the fact that, to date, CBD alone has not been found to pose health risks (although it may interact with certain medications), the interior minister/deputy prime minister wants to end the sale.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, Salvini told a group of representatives from drug rehabilitation organizations that “A war starts today, street by street, shop by shop, district by district, city by city.”
His words were further backed up when authorities closed down three shops and seized their products.
On the surface, it appears that Salvini’s move is sincere. But critics are not entirely convinced that his motives are genuine.
A Political Ploy
More than one person has called out Salvini on his pandering. With elections just around the corner, his sudden hardline against cannabis seems awfully convenient.
CEO of Adalia Holding, Paolo Monasterolo, told Marijuana Business Daily:
“being Italian, I’m ashamed to see such behavior from the Italian Ministry of Interior, which is pure propaganda in times of European elections.”
Referring to Salvini and his equally anti-cannabis party as “thick-headed policy makers,” Monasterolo stated that Salvini’s actions deterred Adalia Holding from growing hemp in Italy.
Frederico Valla of EasyJoing, which sells hemp-based products, is equally critical. He slams Salvini, saying:
“The closer we get to the EU elections, the more noise Salvini makes for his campaign. This time, the fearmongering tactic is to generalize ‘bad drugs’ with CBD, in a move that has no rationale.”
Salvini might soon find himself declawed, however. The Supreme Court of Cassation will be issuing a ruling to clarify what is and is not allowed regarding the open sale of hemp products. Once this happens, Salvini’s interference will be limited to ensuring compliance, specifically that the shops sell products that do not exceed the 0.6% THC limit.
WeedAdvisor’s Interest in Global Cannabis Advocacy
While we can easily dismiss the opinions of some severe anti-cannabis activists, Matteo Salvini shows that such opinions can hold weight when wielded by people with influence. This is why WeedAdvisor expands its educational reach on a global scale.
We may not be able to get through to people like Salvini, but that does not mean that the general public cannot benefit from learning the facts. After all, they are the ones responsible for allowing or preventing the election of people like Salvini.