Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza has suspended a decree that would have classified CBD as a narcotic drug, according to an article in Italian newspaper La Stampa.
CBD was set to become a narcotic substance in Italy. A decree established earlier in the year by the Ministry of Health stated in the table of medicines based on narcotic active substances that “compositions for oral administration of cannabidiol obtained from cannabis extracts” should be included. The market was given a reprieve on 28th October, with a new decree that was signed with the intention of convening a working group to address the matter.
Italy has a booming market for CBD, especially low THC cannabis flower. Called “cannabis light”, CBD rich hemp flowers have been permitted for sale thanks to a law change in 2016. Openly advertised and available from high street dispensaries, the dried flowers of the plants can contain up to 0.6% THC by law, three times higher than the EU wide limit of 0.2%.
The Ministry of Health will now convene to address the matter “systematically and comprehensively”. It invited the Higher Institute of Health and the Higher Council of Health to evaluate “whether the effects of the active substance cannabidiol remain unchanged regardless of the percentage of use of the same”.
A 2019 study by the University of Magna Graecia, Université Catholique de Louvain, and the Erasmus School of Economics showed that Police confiscations of illegal marijuana declined with the proliferation of cannabis light, along with a reduction of arrests for drug-related offences. The study suggested that this growing legal market removed an estimated 90–170 million euros per year from the hands of organized criminal gangs.