An Italian court has overturned a decree classifying hemp as a narcotic, siding with cannabis associations which argued for the use of the whole plant.
Italy’s Regional Administrative Court of Lazio (TAR) has annulled a decree from January 2022, that limited hemp production to the use of seeds and fibres.
This decision authorises the use of the whole hemp plant in Italy, bringing the country in line with EU regulations.
The case, which was brought by industry associations including Cannabis Sativa Italy, Sardinia Cannabis, Resilienza Italia onlus and Federcanapa, stated that restrictions on the use of parts of the plant can only be justified by scientific data and that no distinction can be made between the parts of hemp plants that are grown freely.
As reported by Italian media outlet, Canapa Industriale, lawyer Giacomo Bulleri who assisted with the case, said: “It is necessary, in cases such as the one in question, for the administration to provide an adequate explanation of the primary needs for health protection and precaution, providing the scientific data that demonstrate the real existence of a risk arising from the cultivation of hemp plants in the its entirety (i.e. seeds, seed derivatives, leaves and inflorescences from which the resin was extracted).”
The decision is hugely significant for the Italian cannabis industry and its supply chains and authorities will now have to re-examine the measure and legislative amendments will be needed to protect the sector and allow it to function legally.
In a statement, welcoming the move, Cannabis Sativa Italy, Sardinia Cannabis, Resilienza Italia onlus and Federcanapa, commented: “Today, we have definitive confirmation that without valid scientific evidence, it is not possible to impose limits on this agricultural sector. THC-free hemp is not covered by international narcotics conventions and for this reason, its market and industrial and medicinal applications cannot be limited.”
Hemp and CBD must circulate freely across Europe
The decision came not long after the French Council of State overturned a ban on the production and sale of CBD and hemp flower in France.
The TAR also cited a 2020 ruling by the European Commission, which stressed that CBD is not a narcotic and should be able to circulate freely throughout the EU.
In December 2022, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released a report on industrial hemp, emphasising that a whole plant approach must be at the heart of any sectoral development strategy.
The report suggests that such an approach could contribute to the growth of rural areas, as well as manufacturing and food processing industries.
What happens now?
The TAR decision does not automatically legitimise the use of the whole plant until the law is amended. However, it is likely that it will lead to the introduction of CBD and hemp flower to the Italian market.
The event marks another victory for the hemp sector, not only in Italy. It may have repercussions in countries across Europe, where the use of the whole hemp plant is still prohibited.
This article was originally published by Cannareporter and is reprinted here with permission.
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