In Italy, the Consolidated Law, adopted by Presidential Decree No 309 on 9 October 1990 and subsequently amended, provides the legal framework for trade, treatment and prevention, and prohibition and punishment of illegal activities in the field of drugs and psychoactive substances. Drug use in itself is not mentioned as an offence. Possession for personal use is punishable by administrative sanctions (such as the suspension of a driving licence). Since the implementation of Law 79 of 16 May 2014, a distinction is now made between less dangerous drugs in Schedules II and IV and more dangerous drugs in Schedules I and III. Administrative sanctions for personal possession offences may be one to three months’ imprisonment for the former and 2-12 months imprisonment for the latter. If a person is found in possession of illicit drugs for the first time, administrative sanctions are not usually applied, but, instead, the offender receives a warning from the Prefect and a formal request to refrain from use. The offender may also voluntarily request treatment or rehabilitation, and proceedings will then be suspended while the user is referred for treatment. Failure to attend or complete a treatment programme may result in the application of the above sanctions.
The threshold between personal possession and trafficking is determined by the circumstances of the specific case (the act, possession of tools for packaging, different types of drug possessed, number of doses in excess of an average daily use, means of organisation, etc.).
Penalties in laws: possibility of incarceration for possession of drugs for personal use (minor offence)
NB Year of data 2015.
Reported drug law offenders in Italy
NB Year of data 2015.
The penalty for supply-related offences, such as production, sale, transport, distribution or acquisition, depends on the type of drug, as specified by the schedules described above. In the case of more dangerous drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc.), dealing is punishable by 6-20 years’ imprisonment, while offences related to the supply of less dangerous drugs (cannabis, etc.) attract a penalty of 2-6 years’ imprisonment.
When the offences are considered minor because of the means, modalities or circumstances, the terms of imprisonment are six months’ to four years’ imprisonment (for all drug types). Evaluating whether or not the offence is minor should take in account the mode of action, possible criminal motives, the character of the offender; conduct during or subsequent to the offence, and the family and social conditions of the offender.
In previous years, Italy has addressed sales of new psychoactive substances (NPS) using consumer safety laws, but now several generic substance groups have been added to the main drug control law.
Drug law offence (DLO) data are the foundation for monitoring drug-related crime and are also a measure of a law enforcement activity and drug market dynamics; they may be used to inform policies on implementation of drug laws and to improve strategies.
In 2015, according to data from the Central Directorate for Anti-Drug Services, the majority of offenders were involved in offences related to the use/purchase/possession of drugs for personal use. More than half of all offenders were involved in cannabis-related offences; the next most prevalent DLOs are cocaine- and heroin-related offences.