Cannabis campaign: Italians even tolerate hash by mail

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Possession of cannabis for personal consumption was effectively decriminalised following a referendum in 1993. Although this did not actually change the law - cannabis remains illegal - the authorities tend to turn a blind eye to its use. There is no penal sentence for personal use. Since 1993 the consumption of cannabis has risen while the use of hard drugs has fallen.

Cultivation and supply are considered serious offences, however. The line between personal use and intent to supply ultimately rests with the judge. There are no proposals to change the law, and the Government is beginning to take a tougher stance on the subject. All the major parties are against any official relaxing of the laws. This is in contrast to the Lista party, whose leader, Marco Pannella, regularly risks arrest by distributing joints in public. Last week he sent a gram to our correspondent in Rome.

At first sight, the box looked like the green and white confections of a well-known German pharmaceutical company. The give-away, though, was the bold black lettering spelling the word HASHISH. Inside was some hash resin inside a sealed plastic bag. The blurb dutifully pointed out that this was a forbidden substance under article 73 of regulation 309 issued in October 1990. Under Italian law, Mr Pannella was stepping out of bounds by sending hash by mail to foreign journalists, but I was safe since possession and even use of small quantities is tolerated.

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