Popular referendums in Italy can be called if 500,000 signatures are obtained, and campaigners were able to obtain the necessary amount well before the September 30 deadline.
If the public votes to decriminalize cannabis, the purchase, sale and cultivation of the drug will all become legal under Italian law.
“More than 500,000 online signatures in just a week for the #ReferendumCannabis,” the campaigners wrote on their official Facebook page. “We celebrate them by thanking you one by one, because this is a first and not just in Italy.”
The consumption of cannabis is not criminalized under Italian law and marijuana for medical purposes is permitted. However, buying, selling and mass cultivating the herb is illegal and dealers could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
“It’s a paradox, as if the state blames the whole phenomenon on organized crime,” campaigners argued. “Legalizing does not mean promoting consumption but making it safer and more informed.