On Wednesday, Italy’s hard-line Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced his intention to close every legal cannabis shop in Italy “one by one”, saying that he would go so far as to topple the government if his coalition ally, the Five Star Movement, refused to support this.
“From today, I’ll go to war on cannabis street by street, shop by shop, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city,” Salvini boldly announced on Wednesday.
The leader of the ruling far-right Lega party has declared that the war on drugs is a national emergency, calling on the government to use whatever methods to shut down cannabis stores, describing them as “places of mass miseducation.”
Legal cannabis retailers have mushroomed in Italy over the past couple of years. More than 300 stores were opened in 2018, almost double the number as in 2017.
The day after Salvini’s announcement, three cannabis shops were closed by police order in the Macerata, a city in central Italy. During these raids, police seized products which contained THC levels exceeding legal limits.
Salvini hailed the police operation a success, announcing that he will push “Macerata’s model” nationwide.
In January, Five Star senator, Matteo Mantero, filed a draft law allowing citizens to grow up to three marijuana plants for recreational use.
Salvini, in a daring move stated that the draft law will be withdrawn with immediate effect.
Salvini also declared his intention to end hemp and cannabis fairs. “They’re havoc, this must be stopped,” he said.
“This is not in our government pact, the state shouldn’t become a smuggler,” he added that that police under his command have already started a campaign of purging the nation of cannabis. “We’re going to war on drugs, street by street, shop by shop,” he quipped.
In a TV debate, Salvini said he would not hesitate to bring down the government if the Five Star Movement attempted to legalize cannabis.