Is it legal to cultivate cannabis in Italy?
Italy has got back to cultivating Hemp, for some years now we have assisted a return to cultivation of Cannabis sativa with therapeutic or industrial purposes. Which authorizations are necessary to cultivate? What should be done to start up a cultivation, in accordance with the law?
THC and CBD. Law 242/2016 and the circular of the Ministry
The cultivation of hemp is regulated by the norms contained in Law 242 of 2016 and entered into force January 14, 2017. Through the circular published on May 23, 2018 by the Ministry for Agricultural Policy, the regulations were clarified with which the norms contained in Law 242 should be implemented.
As of today, in Italy, it is possible to cultivate hemp plants with a THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) rate below 0,2% with a tolerance level up to 0,6%. The farmer hasn’t got any liability if the plants exceed 0,2% of THC, whilst he does in case they exceed 0,6%, as explained in article 4, comma 5 of law 242.
In case this limit is also exceeded, the plants will be seizure and destructed. Regulation (EU) no.1122/2009 and specifically Annex I (p. 105) of this regulation, has governed the method of determination of THC in the cultivations. The ministerial circular is, along with Law 242/2016, the reference for following the rules of cultivation correctly.
Which seeds can be planted?
It is mandatory to select seeds included in the Directive 2002/53 of the European Union, in which one can find the Common catalogue of varieties of agricultural plant species.
This is a list of 52 authorized seed varieties, the only ones that can be used at the first sowing and all the following ones.
As explained by article 7 of law 242, it is completely forbidden to use self-produced seeds. The big novelty of Law 242 is that an authorization is not necessary for the sowing of certified hemp varieties with a THC content below the limits allowed by law.
So, at the moment, nor a notification to the law enforcement is necessary, neither any specific authorization, in contrast to the provisions of some years ago. Once purchased the seeds, it is mandatory to retain for at least one year the related information tags, indicating their origin and quality. It is necessary to retain the invoice as well.
The plantations can be subject to control which should always be executed in the presence of the farmer. Furthermore, the controlling party should always release a sample taken from the plantation owner in case he/she wants to perform counter-analyses.
The State Forestry Department is the body authorized to execute the controls, including the collection and laboratory analyses on hemp cultivations.
The objectives of a law
The objective of Law 242 and the detailed information of the ministerial circular is, in fact, to support and promote the cultivation and the production chain of hemp, being a cultivation able to contribute to the reduction of environmental impact in agriculture, to the reduction of soil consumption, desertification and loss of biodiversity, and as a rotation crop as well. The perspective is of a relaunch of hemp production in our country.
Until the mid-XX° century, Italy was the first producer of hemp in Europe. The plant was mainly used by the textile industry. After decades, we now assist a new boom of hemp cultivations, which have now finally got a regulatory framework.