The life of the light cannabis sector has never been smooth in Italy.
As well as the lack of regulation of the sale of light cannabis-based products, the political attacks against cannabis have put a dark shadow on the work of thousands of people involved in this field.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture reshuffled the deck on the uncertain situation of the industrial hemp-chain in September 2020 when it included light cannabis flowers for extraction within the official plants’ catalogue.
Such categorization meant a widening use of light cannabis flowers as they could be used to produce essential oils and opened new business perspectives for the hemp-supply sector. But such a step forward hasn’t stabilized the uncertain pace of the legal cannabis market. Companies, retailers, organizations and activists had to deal once again with the uncertainty and the lack of clarity of the decision-making institutions.
In particular, cannabis policies have played an essential role in restricting the operating range of this business due to the lack of coordination among the several ministries and departments.
In early October 2020, the Ministry of Health listed the oral solutions of cannabidiol, known as CBD, within the list of medicines of narcotics law. Most of the Italian mainstream media reported that CBD has become a narcotic drug. However, the Ministry of Health issued a ministerial decree to list oral medicinal drugs containing CBD within the table of medicines of narcotic law, but not in the narcotic table of narcotics law. Such a ministerial decree was entered into force to bring the CBD-based medical drug Epidiolex in the pharmaceutical market, but this technical intervention has opened new doubts regarding the lawfulness of the sale of CBD oils.
CBD oils fall into the category listed in the ministerial decree because they are oral solutions containing CBD, but they are not medical drugs. The Ministry of Health didn’t specify if non-medical CBD oils would also be included in this category.
As an aftermath, experts have elaborated two scenarios regarding the future of CBD oils. In the first one, experts say that this ministerial decree is not going to affect the production and sale of CBD oils because such products are not intended for medical use, but they are used for wellness purposes and as supplements. In this same perspective, neither light cannabis flowers nor other products containing CBD, such as topical cream and spray products, will be banned from the sale.
Instead, a less optimistic scenario establishes that this ministerial decree would ban all CBD oils in Italy if their productions and sales are not authorized by the Italian Medicines Agency. This is because the oral solutions of CBD have become a product that needs to be sold under prescription.
This would mean a serious risk for the Italian CBD market because oils are one of the most widely sold products in Italy, along with light cannabis flowers.
The confusing situation of the consequence of this decree brought a group of Italian MPs to criticize this ministerial decree as it sparked confusion and a sense of instability on the light cannabis market. For them, the decision to include oral solutions of CBD within the scope of narcotics law is illogical. Such a choice can seriously penalize the entire hemp cultivation sector, thus leaving the field open only to the pharmaceutical giants.
They think that this decision is in clear contrast with the promotion of the hemp-supply industry promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“While in the rest of the world prohibition is overcome, in Italy there is the impression of a tendency towards the criminalization of cannabis, which is in contrast with the policies to fight back against organized crime. As members of the Italian Parliament, we are fully committed to ensuring a change of this trend,” they stated.
But in late October 2020, the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, suspended the ministerial decree that he signed in early October to let the National Health Institute study more the properties of CBD. The light cannabis community had a sigh of relief, but the future of CBD oils will depend on the future decisions of the Ministry of Health.
In the same hectic days of the publication of the ministerial decree, the Italian Customs Agency sent a circular to vape shops, and other premises authorized to sell vape products to fill and sign a self-certification in which they declare to not to sell light cannabis and CBD products. The lack of compliance with this regulation will bring the Customs Agency to revoke the licenses of the premises that have not self-certified their commitment to not to sell light cannabis and CBD products.
The Italian Customs Agency sent such a circular after ascertaining that some vape shops sold light cannabis flowers and CBD products. As there are some court judgments against the sale of such products, the customs agency prevented any legal repercussions requesting them to not to sell these products.
However, experts and cannabis activists interpreted this decision as a form of restriction against the light cannabis sector. The political struggle to legalize cannabis and ease the growth of the light cannabis industry have not yet given positive results. As well as the historic opposition of cannabis reforms pursued by right-wing parties and movements, the current majority of the Italian Parliament is also not taking this topic as a priority.
There are a few MPs seriously actively interested in easing the lives of thousands of people involved in this sector. However, the current government and the opposition have pushed back their actions. Meanwhile, the entire legal cannabis sector has been forced to take two steps back from the path to the full recognition of the lawfulness of light cannabis and CBD-based products.
Written and Published By Dario Sabaghi In Weed World Magazine Issue 149
Image: Adobe Stock, Binoid CBD