Isn't it great how cause and effect can be so surprising? Perhaps the European Court for Human Rights didn't know they would become freedom fighters of marijuana when they imposed a high penalty for overcrowded Italian prisons, but now they certainly are.
The Italian government had to resort to drastic measures because last year the European Court ordered them to reduce the amount of inmates in prisons within one year, due to the violation of human rights. The prisons could on average hold around 48.000 detainees, but in reality they were stuffed with 62.000 people. About 20.000 people were detained on account of possession or dealing in marijuana, and so by releasing just these people from the prisons they fulfilled the demands of the court.
Some people classified as dealers were looking at a 20 year sentence because up until now marijuana was listed as a Schedule I drug, hand in hand with heroin. Cocaine and methamphetamine are classified as a Schedule II, which clearly depicts how crooked these measures and measurements can be that are enforced by law .
The change in policy is already effective, however, it has not yet been replaced with a new regulation. The alternatives for the law that are currently being taken into consideration are either allowing for personal cultivation of plants or allowing medicinal use of marijuana. Since we’re still talking about Italy it’s difficult to imagine that either will actually come to be effected, but at least for now possession is decriminalized, and for the rest we'll keep you posted.