Italy's Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] on Wednesday struck down a drug law that tripled sentences for selling, cultivating or possessing marijuana. The constitutional court declared the law illegitimate [Reuters report] without further elaboration. The cannabis law was blamed for causing Italian prison overcrowding, and an estimated 10,000 people may be released from jail with its repeal. The law had deemed marijuana and hashish the legal equivalent to drugs such as cocaine and heroin, which increased sentences from 2-6 years to 6-20 years. Now that the law has been struck down, the prior law with shorter cannabis-related sentences will take effect. Neither law created a criminal offense for consumption, just possession.
Marijuana legalization [JURIST backgrounder] has created controversy in the US and abroad. JURIST Guest Columnist Alex Kriet predicts that 2014 will be a groundbreaking year for marijuana policy, and JURIST Guest Columnist Reid Murdoch argues that as regulated cannabis markets open, institutions will adapt to the change [JURIST op-eds]. Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] unanimously that cities may not pass ordinances that conflict with the state's five-year-old medical marijuana law [text]. In January the Florida Supreme Court approved [JURIST report] a citizen initiative to vote on the legality of medical marijuana. Uruguay President Jose Mujica [official website, in Spanish] signed a bill [JURIST report] in December making the country the first to legalize the sale and production of marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in October challenging Arizona's medical marijuana regulation banning the use of marijuana-derived extracts.