Interior Minister said he would even consider toppling the government if his coalition ally refuses to back him
“From today, I’ll go to war on cannabis street by street, shop by shop, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, city by city,” said Salvini.
Salvini, who is the leader of the far-right ruling League Party as well as Interior Minister, elevated the war on drugs to a national emergency, calling on the government to use all legal methods to close “these places of mass miseducation,” according to the report.
Legal cannabis retailers have grown in number in Italy over the past few years, with an estimated turnover of €6.5 million in 2018. More than 300 additional stores were opened in 2018, a 75 percent increase on the previous year.
But these retailers have only been legally permitted to sell a “light” type of cannabis containing less than 0.2 percent of the active substance THC since 2016.
Italian lawmakers have so far only regulated the level of THC in cannabis, not the retail and marketing of CBD products. A judgement from the Supreme Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeal in Italy, is expected at the end of the month, according to the report.
The day after Salvini’s announcement, three cannabis shops were closed by a police order in the city of Macerata, in the centre of Italy. The police seized the products, some of which contained THC levels exceeding the legal limit.
Salvini hailed the police operation, saying he will push “Macerata’s model” all across the country with a directive.
The war on cannabis also risks opening a new conflict between the far-right League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, who both rule the country in a coalition. In January, Five Star’s leader Matteo Mantero showed support for the legalization of production for personal and recreational use.
In Italy, cannabis remains the illicit drug most commonly used by the general population, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. A 2017 survey from the Centre found that 20 percent of young adults between 15 and 34 years old reported using cannabis in the last year.
Want to keep up to date on what’s happening in the world of cannabis? Subscribe to the Cannabis Post newsletter for weekly insights into the industry, what insiders will be talking about and content from across the Postmedia Network.