Legal marijuana shops in Rome: why are they everywhere?
Visiting Rome, you may have been surprised by the growing number of shops with the word marijuana on their signs; or the by now familiar silhouette of the infamous plant on their windows and marquees. So you might be wondering whether is it OK to smoke weed in Rome?
The answer to the question is: no.
The situation is a little more complicated than it appears, and is based on a legal loophole. In 2016, a law went into effect allowing farmers to produce industrial hemp for uses such as food making, production of textiles and more. However, marijuana flowers produce two distinct substances, and the law did not specify what to do with the one that’s not THC, the psychotropic active ingredient that is responsible for the effect that marijuana gives when smoked (or ingested).
CBD is the name of the other substance, the one that is generally referred to as “light marijuana”, and that is what is sold in the shops you’ll no doubt see while in the city center.
What’s the catch?
Customers can enter these shops safely. Until a new law is passed to regulate CBD-high/ THC-low marijuana, they will be legal and authorized to operate. They sell goods produced from using marijuana as a main ingredient or material, and obviously they sell gross, “weakened” legal weed.
There’s a caveat, though: the latter can be only used as a decorative item. It can’t be smoked on the street or in a public place, to be clear, and you can only bring it back to your accommodation with you as a “souvenir” (the term used is part of the legal loophole!). What you do with it in the privacy of the place you have rented in Rome must remain, indeed, private. Sellers are bound by law to say that it can only be used as an ornament.
To this day, medical marijuana in Italy can only be administered by your family doctor in serious instances (during chemoterapy, for instance, or as part of a pain management therapy in terminal or chronically ill patients). The status of regular marijuana remains illegal, however the spreading of CBD marijuana shops can be the first step towards a possible decriminalisation.