Europe: New Italian Government to Move to "Reduce Damage" of Tough Drug Law 6/16/06

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As one of its last legacies, the rightist government of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi passed a tough new drug law in February that treated people in possession of more than five grams of marijuana or similarly small amounts of other drugs as if they were drug dealers. Under the new law, possession of lesser amounts still subjected people to drug treatment and/or other administrative sanctions.

Rome Global Marijuana march, May 2006
(courtesy Italy IndyMedia)
Passage of the so-called "Fini-Giovanardi law," named after its author, neo-fascist politician Gianfranco Fini, and Berlusconi minister Carlo Giovanardi, sparked protests and calls from opposition figures to reverse it. The law's passage also helped make Rome's Global Marijuana March one of the world's largest this year, with more than ten thousand participants.

Berlusconi and his center-right coalition lost power after the April elections, and the new government is signaling it will move to ameliorate the law's harsh impact. "We do not know what act we will issue yet, but it must cause a reduction of damage with respect to the current law," said Welfare Minister Paolo Ferreri last week outside a National Committee for Rehabilitation conference in remarks reported by the Agencia Giornalistica Italiana (AGI). "There will then be a comprehensive modification... through which there will be a clear separation of light drugs from heavy drugs, because the most worrying aspect among the youth is the lack of awareness of the different dangers of drugs."

Minister Ferrari also reiterated the commitment of the left-leaning Union coalition led by new Prime Minister Romano Prodi to decriminalize drug possession. "It is also necessary to make consumption a non-penal infraction along with the improvement of administrative measures," Ferrero said. "It is therefore necessary to differentiate between the dealing of drugs and the consumption of them, setting up talks with consumers to explain the true dangers of heavy-duty drugs."

By early this week, pressed on recent, well-publicized arrests of young pot smokers, Ferrari was ready to go a little further. In an interview with Radio Radicale, he said his team "is working hard in order to find a rapid solution -- certainly by the end of the year -- against the negative effects of the Fini-Giovanardi law." Not only must use be decriminalized, but even administrative sanctions must be abolished, he said. As for the pot arrests, those shouldn't even be happening, he said.

The new Italian government is talking the talk. Time will tell if it walks the walk.

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Issue #440 -- 6/16/06

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Editorial: Real World Consequences | Feature: Death Toll Climbs as Fentanyl-Laced Heroin ODs Spread | Feature: Among Whites, Imprisoning Drug Users a Minority Opinion, Survey Finds | Feature: Industrial Hemp Push Underway in California, North Dakota | Offer and Appeal: Important New Legalization Video and Drug War Facts Book Available | Book Offer: Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went up in Smoke | Alert: Important Medical Marijuana Vote Coming Up in Congress -- Your Help Needed | Follow-up: Colombia Amendment Results | Feedback: Do You Read Drug War Chronicle? | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Search and Seizure: Supreme Court Upholds Searches Without Notice | Methamphetamine: Epidemic? What Epidemic? Study Asks | Law Enforcement: Justice for Sale in Washington Border County | Europe: New Italian Government to Move to "Reduce Damage" of Tough Drug Law | Europe: Britain to Reclassify Methamphetamine as Class A Drug | Canada: Federal Medical Marijuana Program a Flop, AIDS Society Says | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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