Italian trade groups cheer court ruling that hemp is not a narcotic

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A regional court in Italy has upheld a lawsuit filed by four cannabis associations, overturning a decree issued one year ago that classified hemp as a narcotic in contravention of European law.

The Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio annulled the decree and ordered authorities to adjust it to get Italian law in line with the EU. The groups filed the lawsuit shortly after the decree was issued in January 2022.

‘Definitive confirmation’

“Today, we have definitive confirmation that without valid scientific evidence, it is not possible to impose limits on this agricultural sector,” according to a statement from the groups: Canapa Sativa Italia, Sardinia Cannabis, Federcanapa and Resilienza Italia. “THC-free hemp is not covered by international narcotics conventions and for this reason, its market and industrial and medicinal applications cannot be limited.”

In a legally binding ruling applicable across the Union, the European Commission declared in 2020 that CBD is not a narcotic and may be legally traded in and among member states. That ruling was based on a celebrated European Union Court of Justice finding to that effect made earlier in the same year.


The Italian decree, which came from the State-Regions Conference, had updated language in a 2018 order that addressed Italian law on the cultivation, harvesting and processing of medicinal plants.

The court’s ruling clarifies the distinction between the cultivation of hemp varieties grown strictly for the pharmaceutical supply chain and those grown to produce leaves and flowers for non-medical products such as CBD.

The Lazio court also cited the lifting of a ban on hemp flowers in France last month as further justification for ordering the the Italian decree abandoned. In the French ruling, the Council of State established the principle that an absolute ban on the commercialization of cannabis leaves and flowers with a THC content below legal limits is not justified by any risks to public health.

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