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Constitutional Court throws out harsh drug law

Equated Class A narcotics to hashish, marijuana

12 February, 14:20
Constitutional Court throws out harsh drug law (see previous) (ANSA) - Rome, February 12 - Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday threw out a 2005 law that equates the possession of soft drugs to heavy drugs. With the ruling, Italian law reverts to a 1993 provision with lighter sentencing for narcotics not considered Class A drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. The so-called Fini-Giovanardi law had been challenged several times since its inception, most recently in December when a Milan judge turned over to the Constitutional Court a case of a Tunisian citizen arrested for dealing hashish. Defence attorneys argued he was being tried under a law that is unconstitutional because it violates the European Union legal principle that the punishment must be proportional to the crime.

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

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 centrist MP Carlo Giovanardi, also argue it violates a 1993 popular referendum in which a majority of Italians voted to decriminalize drug possession for personal consumption.