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article imageUnlike U.S. law, cannabis and heroin no longer equal in Italy

By Jeannie Stokowski-Bisanti     Feb 13, 2014 in World
Italy's constitutional court has declared a law that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating and possessing cannabis "illegitimate" and has overturned it. Antigone, a prison rights group, say the law has caused prison overcrowding.
Currently, 40 percent of all inmates are serving sentences for drug crimes and 10,000 people may be released from jail as a result of the overturned law. In the European Union, Italian jails are considered to be the most crowded.
Under the stricter drugs law, drugs such as cannabis and hashish were classified as equal by law to deadly Class A drugs cocaine and heroin. This increased sentences for the cultivation, sale and trafficking of cannabis to six to 20 years from two to six years. The previous drug law giving reduced sentences automatically takes effect following the court's ruling.
Neither law made it a criminal offence to consume cannabis but both made its possession illegal. Alessia Morani, an MP with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) told BBC News, "The ruling puts the final word on one of the most absurd laws that parliament has ever passed in recent years."
Present United States Federal Law classifies both cannabis and heroin as equally dangerous, a classification that U.S. courts have upheld rather than rejected.
In Uruguay, where cannabis is legal, pharmacies can now deliver up to 40 grams of cannabis per person on a monthly basis and those who choose the option of self-cultivation can have a total of six plants. Cannabis clubs can have a maximum of 100 members and grow a maximum of 99 plants.
More about USA, Cannabis, Law, Legally, Heroin
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