History of CBD and Cannabis: Italy
Like other Western European nations, Italy is facing one of the most politically interesting eras in terms of cannabis legalization. As an EU member state, the somewhat conservative country is forced to make significant compromises on an international level.
In order to understand how Italy interfaces with the EU, it’s important to review the country’s lurid history with hemp and cannabis production.
Cannabis, CBD, and Italy
In 1914, one of the world’s most lucrative hemp markets was situated in the heart of Italy. A report released by the USDA stated that the Italian hemp market rivaled the quality of every other market, since agriculturalists went to great pains to cultivate a competitive product.
Hemp was cultivated all throughout Bologna, the Arno Valley, Tuscany, and Naples. At the time, the soil was rich and the country’s irrigation techniques allowed the water-intensive crop to grow at high rates.
For thirty years, the industry has only continued to grow. By 1940, the small seaside country just slightly lagged behind the Soviet Union’s production. Over 1000 hectares were dedicated purely to hemp, which netted increasing prices during the wartime surge.
Just a decade later, hemp production declined to almost nothing throughout the country. Synthetic fibers largely replaced the massive need for hemp while international anti-drug campaigns began to ramp up in response to the hippie cultural movement.
By the eighties, hemp was almost nowhere to be found. The United States War on Drug campaign blanketed the world with huge restrictions against any plant resembling cannabis, even though hemp has none of the same intoxicating properties.
International sentiment towards hemp has only started to change within the past decade. As research about the properties of hemp has picked up in European universities, increased consumer demand and loosening restrictions has allowed for Italy to pick up production once again.
In 2016, the EU formally allowed the trade, sale, and cultivation of any industrial hemp plant with less than 0.2 percent THC. Now, Italy has a booming CBD market in the country’s major cities.
Unlike other countries, agriculturalists don’t need special, prohibitively expensive licenses in order to jump into the hemp market. Rather, they just need certified seeds that are provided through licensed seeds sellers. This makes Italy’s licensing system much less complex and restrictive than most other nations’ regulations.
Moreover, the increasing production of hemp is closely related to the country’s relaxation of cannabis penalization. Currently, cannabis is decriminalized, meaning that possession of small amounts only incurs a petty fine rather than a criminal record.
Additionally, some polls have reported that over 73 percent of Italian residents are in full support of complete cannabis legalization. Still, lawmakers remain hesitant about enacting legalization measures.
Currently, cannabis is legal for medical and industrial purposes from qualified possessors. It will be interesting to see how the EU, Italy, and other Western European countries duke out full cannabis legalization within the next twenty years.