Light cannabis subtracts 170 million per year from criminal organizations
according to this last study, the “unintentional” liberalization of light cannabis in Italy from December 2016 to today results in a reduction of up to 14% of searches and a significant decrease in the number of people arrested for drug-related offenses.
By means of a legislative loophole and in order to assess its effects, cannabis light was allowed in Italy since 2016 and is the delight of hemp shops. Although this regulation concerned the whole of the Italian territory, in the short term, the level of intensity varied according to the configuration of the pre-liberalization market for culture shops, that is to say retailers who were selling industrial products related to cannabis.
According to the calculations made, the shortfall for criminal organizations amounts to at least 90-170 million euros per year. These findings support the argument that the supply of illicit drugs is displaced by entry from official and legal retailers.
The potential income went up in smoke, because consumers preferred to buy legal cannabis through legitimate sales channels rather than going on the black market controlled by the mafias.
The widespread expansion of hemp shops in the territory has made it possible to reduce the number of arrests for offenses related to the sale of drugs, thus limiting the scale of seizures made by law enforcement agencies. "The illicit drug supply market has been affected by the success of light cannabis, which has helped reduce seizures of marijuana, hashish and other illegally sold products."
Professor Vincenzo Carrieri from the University of Magna Graecia and his colleague Francesco Principe, researcher at the Erasmus school in Rotterdam, studied the economic and social effects of the partial legalization triggered by the law of December 2016, which allows and encourages culture of certain varieties of hemp. Although cannabis sativa remains illegal and light cannabis is very different, the study shows that there is an interesting substitution effect between the two products.
Has light cannabis changed the market for supply and demand?
In fact, on the illegal market there are high levels of THC ranging from 10,8% to peaks of 22% compared to authorized light cannabis whose levels vary between 0,2 and 0,6%. “Basically, the first produces psychoactive psychotropic effects and the second induces a state of relaxation”, underlines Leonardo Madio, author of the study, adding thatthere are many users who are more attracted to the relaxing effects of cannabis than to other recreational properties and this before the law of 2016.
Consumers prefer to buy something that is certainly safer and more controlled in stores. The result is a shortage in the coffers of drug traffickers ...
Beyond the political confrontation, the study shows that partial regulation has positive effects in the fight against the black market in drugs. The law 242 2016 has indeed allowed and encouraged the cultivation of hemp with percentages of active ingredients between 0,2% and 0,6%.
Taking into account the period between May 2017 and February 2018, the authors of the research assessed the effects of the spread of light cannabis. First of all, he reduced the number of seizures of illegal goods: “For every culture store in the territory before the introduction of the law, liberalization led to a decrease up to 14% of monthly cannabis seizures »Explains Leonardo Madio. A process that also affected the number of illegally cultivated cannabis plants, down 33% and hashish down 8%. At the same time, the new legislation reduced the number of detainees for drug offenses: arrests fell by 3%: in particular the number of foreigners -3% and minors -15%.
Finally, the measure also affected the portfolio of criminal groups in the country for a value of between 90 and 170 million euros. Of course, this is still a modest sum, given that the entire illegal Italian cannabis market is worth around 3,5 billion euros.
“Light cannabis has led to a drop in street sales representing 3 to 5% of the relative market,” the researchers say.
Finally, the authors highlight the need to fill remaining gaps in regulating the medical cannabis market.
Reduced sales of drugs
In an other source published on the York University portal, the three authors explain that the accessibility of light cannabis in local markets has led to reduced sales of drugs, including anxiolytics, sedatives, antidepressants, migraine and antiepileptics. Those who use these drugs may decide for themselves to replace them with light, non-prescription cannabis, because it is available and affordable.