On Wednesday, May 8th, The Italian Deputy Prime Minister; Matteo Salvini declared that he would shut down production of all ‘cannabis light’ goods in the nation. Cannabis light goods are products that contain less than 0.2% levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychotic element in cannabis products.
In 2017, The law authorized the legality of Cannabis Light. Despite that, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister’s decision had immediate effects. Salvini quoted, “From today, I’ll go to war on cannabis street by street, shop by shop, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city’ in attempts to regulate the drug even more.
This decision while does have a political agenda it will primarily affect business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Hemp trade.
Italy and the Hemp trade
Italy over the past decade has been an upcoming contestant in the hemp trade. The legalization of light hemp has caught the interest of many international and national investors. It is an emerging economy and will flourish in the coming years.
With over 6.5 million euros of revenue and up to 300 shops that opened up in 2018, Italy Hemp industry is thriving. There has been a growth rate of 75% in the Hemp Industry and the market expects to grow even more in the near future.
Most shops sold cannabinoids and CBD that contain less than 0.2% levels of THC. While recreational Cannabis is still illegal, the Cannabis Light industry is blooming at a decent rate. However, right after the minister’s decision, three shops close down immediately. The police seized the items that contain more than the legally required limit.
Effect on Local Business and traders
Paolo Monasterolo CEO of Estonia and a well-known hemp investor commented on the issue. He referred to the decision as ‘thick-headed policy-making’! In addition to that, he further stated
being Italian, I’m ashamed to see such behavior from the Italian Ministry of Interior, which is pure propaganda in occasions of European elections.
Paolo also commented that these are the reasons that make the business conditions in Italy hostile for hemp trade. Paolo also stated that it is one of the reasons he never developed potential Cannabis and Hemp retail points in the country
Uncertain market conditions not only drive away investors but slow down revenue the current Hemp retailers make. Most Business owners claimed the decision is more of a political stunt rather than practical policy.
The aftermath of the Minister’s Hemp Restriction
With the upcoming elections, this policy is instead to divert attention and will not have a significant impact on the actual market retail. Another well-known tycoon in the Hemp trade, Marco Capellio commented,
It’s unfortunate that sources are getting wasted on this, scaring firms and investors with headlines when this legal flourishing business is developing jobs, and so quite a few a lot of more optimistic factors for the Italian society.
Capellio also believed that the minister could not ban something that is already legal in the country.
If the THC content is below 0.2%, the police will have to allow the shops to continue to operate. The same chief of police has been doing this long before Salvini’s comments.
The most Salvini can do at this point is to allocate resources towards sampling and testing CBD products sold by retailers. However, most retailers can still sufficiently operate under the law. Frederico Valla, the co-founder of EasyJoint, commented on the situation, claiming that
‘The closer we get to the EU elections, the more noise Salvini makes for his campaign,”
Valla is a large hemp retailer, and along with other traders, they expressed this as a sort of fearmongering with CBD and Hemp products is outdated and unnecessary.
This claim was backed up by the Minister of health Giulia Grillo who asked Salvini to ‘We should not give wrong information because cannabis shops don’t sell drugs.”
What’s Next for the Hemp trade in Italy?
As tension grows and more people comment against the decision, In a TV interview and debate, Salvini stated that he would not be a minister of a drug-using state he also expressed that CBD is a ‘Havoc and it must be stopped.’
These bold statements will play their role in the coming days and affect the elections as well. While Traders and business owners still await the decision of the Supreme Court. The Supreme court’s decision aims to provide the businessmen with more clarity.
The Supreme Court will lay down the facts by 30th May. That will clarify what types of products are legal to sell. Moreover, the legality of growing plants and selling CBD products with certain THC levels needs to be clarified as well.