Italy’s CBD Flower Craze Saw Black Market Lose 200 Million Euros Per Year

We recently reported on developments that suggest the UK authorities are cracking down on the import and sale of CBD-rich flower – so-called ‘hemp buds’.

The same thing has been happening in Italy, where the country’s highest court has outlawed the sale of low-THC cannabis – and effectively all cannabis derivatives – in a landmark ruling.

This is despite the fact that the rise of shops selling ‘cannabis light’ in Italy has resulted in an estimated 200 million Euros being funneled away from the black market, according to this study from the UK’s York University.

Positive effects of CBD flower availability

The study authors also note how “even in a short period of time and with an imperfect substitute, the organized crime’s supply of illegal drugs is displaced by the entry of official and legal retailers.”

These positive effects are compounded by another study, which found that the widespread availability of CBD flower in Italy led to a significant reduction in the number of prescription drugs dispensed by the country’s National Health Service.

Rise of ‘cannabis light’

The demand for low-THC, high-CBD ‘hemp’ flower in Italy took off in 2016, after a law was introduced to legalise hemp – or re-legalise, we should say, as Italy had second largest hemp industry in the world up until the 1940s,

The 2016 law was adopted to relaunch the countries bid to become a world-leader in hemp production. The new set of rules, however, made hemp with a THC content of less than 0,6% legal to sell as a collectable – or so everyone thought.

By 2018, there were over 1,000 shops selling ‘cannabis light’ across the country, severely damaging the illegal cannabis market in the process.

Shady motives

So why would the Italian government be so determined to prohibit a booming new industry that takes money out of the hands of criminals, not to even mention the health benefits of CBD?

There are some rumours that it is the criminals themselves who are calling for the pushback from authorities. After all, it is well known that the mafia control a large part of the drugs trade in Italy.

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