The Italian parliament is to consider a proposal to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.
A proposal to legalise the recreational use of cannabis, enjoying the cross-party support of more than 200 lawmakers, has been presented in the Italian parliament.
The law would make it legal to possess up to 15 grams of cannabis, to cultivate it in small quantities, and to smoke it in private, and would allow its sale in government-approved cannabis shops.
Sponsored by Benedetto Della Vedova, a junior minister for foreign affairs, the bill was subscribed by another 217 members of Italy's two chambers of parliament, which count more than 900 lawmakers in total.
Della Vedova, a former member of the Radical Party, a small libertarian group that has long called for decriminalizing so-called soft drugs, said the measure would weaken drug-dealing mafias and reduce the backlog of trials before Italy's slow-moving tribunals.
Similar arguments were used in March by Franco Roberti, Italy's anti-Mafia czar, in an annual report to parliament, which estimated that cannabis consumption had become as widespread as drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco.
Calling on politicians to at least consider legalisation measures, Roberti reported the "total failure of repressive actions" and said it was "neither imaginable nor desirable" to dedicate further police resources to fighting cannabis use.
Supporters of the bill presented on Wednesday include members of the Democratic Party (PD) of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and of two opposition parties: the leftist Left, Ecology and Freedom (SEL) and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
They commissioned a poll by the Ipsos research institute showing that 60 per cent of Italians would back the reform.