Rome, Tiburtina area. A young man enters a front gate and after a few minutes comes out with a bag of cannabis in his hands. You might think that he went to get supplies from some drug dealer, perhaps in a social centre or in an occupied building. But it is not so. The place where he bought the substance is a regular store.
Since last May, in fact, buying cannabis in Italy is no longer a taboo. That is why in the Capital, opened a branch of the new start-up that sells what is defined as “light cannabis”, basically a marijuana with a lower active ingredient. This would make the substance legal because the THC content (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) would be lower than 0.6%, the limit allowed by law.
According to what is stated by some media, after two months from its launch, the “light cannabis” has already become a phenomenon of the market. Following a consolidated business in other countries such as Switzerland, the start-up is making flourish not only the cultivations of marijuana, but also the profits. And it is also raising again the debate on legalisation, precisely while the project of making cannabis legal was momentarily ditched by the Chamber.
In Terris spoke about the legalization of drugs and “light cannabis” with Massimo Barra, founder in 1976 of the therapeutic community Villa Maraini and prominent exponent of the Italian and International Red Cross. He was among the first doctors in Italy to take care of drugs addicted.
Dr Barra, the lower presence of THC really makes the consumption of marijuana harmless?
It seems to me a thinness technique, a “kid’s chemistry” question. Rather it is necessary to inquire whether the marijuana with lower THC produces or not an effect on those who consumes it. If it is consumed, I presume that it has a psychoactive effect.
Precisely this point. The proponents of the “light marijuana” argue that it does not produce psychoactive effects…
And then what would be the interest of the consumer?
They talk of relaxing and anxiolytics effects …
Until proof of the contrary, these effects always draw origin from the nervous system, therefore we remain in the field of narcotic substances that alter the state of consciousness. I repeat it, hoping to be even more clear: if people consume it, it is because they like it. And if they like it, is because there is a psychoactive effect, whatever it is: relaxing, immunizing, anti-anxiety, … we can call it “light” or in any other way, but it is always drug.
Moreover, the presence of THC increases when the grass is heated. Therefore, also when you smoke it?
Certainly, the combustion changes the potency of the active ingredient. But it should also be mentioned that in the case of marijuana there is not only the THC, there are dozens of other substances, and that in order to have a complete chemical picture it is necessary to consider the composition in a precise manner. I believe however that these are details. If cannabis, “light” or less, would not make people “high”, it would not be consumed.
The company that produces it ensures that buying “light” cannabis is not illegal. Is it really so?
Even the legislator can play the “kid’s chemistry”, but the main point does not change: the substance harms, whether legal or illegal. Discussing around the limit of 0.6 per cent of THC is irrelevant. Anything that attacks the central nervous system, which is the most refined and differentiated part of the body as well as the most delicate, is extremely dangerous.
One of the founders of a new start-up of marijuana declared to La Republicca that the company “more than a commercial aim, has a social mission: we show how the legalization could be “. Is therefore in act an attempt to normalize the consumption of drugs?
It is clear! There are economic interests behind what I would call an “embellishment” of drugs to make it more attractive. Driving people stupid and encouraging them to consume drugs is not a form of progress, but of regression. Look at Villa Maraini, we confront ourselves daily with hundreds of people who are victims of drug abuse. I can tell you that cannabis is a product directed to a very wide audience of young people, and that from this audience we will have the greatest number of future drug addicts of tomorrow.
About legalization, two arguments of who is in favour of this are the following: it would bring more revenues to the Treasury and would take over a part of the market from organised crime…
As a physician, I am not really interested if the mafia or the treasury profit from drug dealing. What I am working on are the harmful effects on the health of the individual consumers. And anyway, let me say that for the State would be a poor gain.
In what sense?
When you sell drugs, the loss is certain! If drugs spread, the number of drug addicts increases. And if they increase, the costs for the State grows. Not hindering the diffusion of something dangerous for the health of citizens inevitably leads to a final negative result.
You first mentioned economic interests. How do you explain the fact that the major sponsors of the legalisation of cannabis are finance tycoons, one on all, George Soros?
I do not understand it, perhaps because I do not want to understand. What I know is that Soros finances also programs of narcotic substances ‘harm reduction’. I am not given to know what kind of interests there are behind certain manoeuvres. What I think is that the large flows of money are all of dubious origin.