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Italian Voters Decriminalize Virtually All Drug Possession


June 1993

On April 18, Italians voted 55 percent to 45 percent to approve a measure repealing some of the punitive aspects of that nation's drug possession laws, effectively decriminalizing small scale drug possession (press release, Bernardo & Manuela, 4/29/93).

The referendum repealed all penal sanctions for the possession of less than threshold amounts of narcotic or psychotropic drug. Users will no longer be subject to imprisonment. The quantity of the "daily dose" (an arbitrary definition of the difference between personal use and drug dealing) was tripled. Doctors will no longer be prohibited from prescribing drugs to addicts. That decision will be left to the individual physician on a case by case basis. Various non-penal penalties remain for drug possession.