ROME — For the past year, small jars of cannabis flowers have been flying off the shelves of Italian specialty shops: a phenomenon that’s described as a “green gold rush.”
The hemp flowers — with names like K8, Chill Haus, Cannabismile White Pablo and Marley CBD — are sold under the tag “cannabis light” because their level of the psychoactive compound that makes people high is a tiny fraction of that typically found in cultivated marijuana.
But there’s a catch. The aromatic hemp flowers must not be smoked or eaten. Seeds, should there be any, must not be cultivated. As the jars’ labels sternly specify, the products are for “technical use” only and “not for human consumption.” Instead, they are sold — as countless salesclerks will explain with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink smile — as “collectors’ items.”
Such is the current, perplexing status of legal cannabis in Italy.
Italy’s cannabis mania, as it has been called, exploded after a December 2016 law regulating hemp production went into effect, a series of norms meant to help revive a crop that was once widely cultivated in the country. In the 1940s, Italy was said to be the world’s…