Cannabis: origins, diffusion and legislative approaches to its consumption

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The debate on the legalization of marijuana is very much felt in Europe and especially in Italy. There are different opinions and laws related to the consumption of this substance

Let’s see together what cannabis is, what its origins are and what are the different legislative approaches towards it.

What is hemp

Hemp (or cannabis) is a plant that is part of the Cannabaceae family. There are three species of hemp: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica and Cannabis ruderalis. Their height varies between one and a half to six meters high, in particular the sativa can reach up to five meters. Among the active ingredients there are cannabinoids, which are obtained from female inflorescences. The main ones are: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol). In particular, CBD is famous for its beneficial properties on the body, especially on the psyche. Especially for insomnia or anxiety, we recommend buying cbd oil and taking advantage of its beneficial effects.

The origins of cannabis

Cannabis has a very ancient origin. It was born in Asia around 11,500 – 10,200 years ago. According to a study by the Free University of Berlin, published in the agricultural journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, this plant emerged at the end of the last ice age. Especially in Europe and Asia the soil was fertile and particularly suitable for the cultivation of hemp. Therefore, through specific trade routes, cannabis also entered Europe. It was precisely the people of Yamna culture, one of the first tribes in Europe, to be responsible for its rapid spread throughout Western Europe. After 1600 hemp had an exponential spread thanks to the British Empire which also brought it to its colonies in America and Australia. In the latter, cannabis use was very common, until it was outlawed in 1928 due to prohibition spread globally.

Spread of cannabis in Europe

According to Wikipedia data, more than 37% of the population aged 15 to 34 has consumed cannabis at least once in their life. The countries where consumption is most widespread are: the Czech Republic (45.5%), Denmark (44.5%) and France (43.6%). At the bottom of the ranking is Romania with less than 3%. In 2019, 22.2 million European citizens used marijuana, according to data from the European Observatory for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Therefore, this is 7.7% of the total European population.

Approaches to the use of marijuana

There are three legislative approaches to cannabis use:

  • legalization: all types of sanctions are removed and there is market regulation, as for alcohol and tobacco;
  • decriminalization: consumption and trafficking are not legal but are not considered a criminal offense. Administrative sanctions are applied, such as fines;
  • decriminalization: the offense is considered criminal but does not involve detention as it is of a minor entity.

In 7 of the 27 countries of the European Union (Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, France, Estonia, Finland and Sweden), the use of cannabis is criminalized, meaning it can lead to incarceration. However, this happens infrequently, almost never. The debate on the legalization of marijuana is now very much felt in European countries, especially in countries like Germany and Italy. It is not yet clear what position the different countries will take, although so far the common opinion seems more inclined to legalization.