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Italy's drug law challenged for second time in a few days

Two judges turn two cases over to Constitutional Court

11 December, 19:45
Italy's drug law challenged for second time in a few days (ANSA) - Milan, December 11 - A Milan judge on Wednesday agreed to challenge the constitutionality of Italy's so-called Fini-Giovanardi anti-drug law of 2005, turning a drug case over to the Constitutional Court.

The Fini-Giovanardi law equates Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine with lesser classified substances such as hashish, and therefore makes all defendants liable for the same penalties if convicted.

Defense attorney Mauro Straini argued his client, a Tunisian citizen arrested on charges of dealing hashish, was being tried under a law that is unconstitutional because it violates the EU legal principle that the punishment must be proportional to the crime. The judge in the case agreed to turn it over to the Constitutional Court, turning the defendant loose pending its decision.

Another Milan judge recently turned a similar case over to the Constitutional Court, based on the same argument.

The defense attorneys in both cases also challenged the Fini-Giovanardi law on the grounds that the government at the time fast-tracked it by tacking it on to legislation related to security financing for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Detractors of the law, which was sponsored at the time by then-right-wing MP Gianfranco Fini and then-centrist MP Franco Giovanardi, also say it violates a 1993 popular referendum in which a majority of Italians voted to decriminalize drug possession for personal consumption.