Italy will be first to light up Europ e’s weed biz
Italy may soon jump on the weed bandwagon. A nationwide referendum to legalise cannabis will likely take place early next year. If Italian voters embrace dope, it will spark a domino effect across Europ e.
A new approach to cannabis would have multiple financial and economic benefits, as the U.S. and Canadian experiences shows. Italy’s market for recreational consumption is probably worth around 8 billion euros, an average of estimates compiled by National Research Council researcher Piero David shows. Currently this is a boon for local and foreign criminal gangs who dominate the illegal weed market in Italy. But once legalised and taxed at 75%, roughly in line with cigarettes, it would add 6 billion euros a year to Italy’s strained state coffers. More savings would come from fewer trials and jail detentions.
There are other advantages. Under Italian law, recreational weed use in small quantities and consumption for medical purposes is allowed. But selling and producing the herb is a criminal offence. The state holds a de facto production monopoly for legal usage but cannot meet rising demand. Medical consumption alone jumped 30% year-on-year to 1.1 tonnes in 2020, state data show. Allowing new players to produce cannabis for multiple uses would add 35,000 new jobs, say supporters. That’s not unthinkable: U.S. jobs linked to legal marijuana doubled to 321,000 in three years, says cannabis marketplace Leafly.
Italy could also gain a stock market edge. Canada’s decision in 2018 to legalise recreational marijuana triggered an initial public offering frenzy, but this has yet to flood Europe. Being based in a country where private use is openly legal would give Euronext-owned headtopics.com
(ENX.PA)Borsa Italiana an advantage vis-à-vis other European markets.As the U.S. experience shows, once individual states take the plunge on cannabis, the economic advantages become visible to all. It triggered a domino effect across America. If Italy crosses the sticky weed line, European neighbours will also follow.
Followon TwitterCONTEXT NEWS- The organisers of a pro-cannabis referendum in Italy said on Sept. 18 they had gathered the 500,000 signatures required to trigger a nationwide referendum early next year.- If confirmed, the vote will seek to legalise the growing of weed for personal use and ease sanctions on other cannabis-related crimes.
- Around 57% of those polled by Sondaggi Bidimedia in May said they were in favour of legalising cannabis. A poll by Eurispes last year showed 52% of those polled were against.Editing by George Hay and Karen KwokBreakingviewsReuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.Read more: ReutersBreakingviews »
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