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UNGASS2016 (Photo by United Nations)

Decriminalising cannabis would harm ISIS: Italy prosecutor

Decriminalising cannabis would mean fighting against the Islamic State (IS) and the Italian Mafia, deduced Italy’s top prosecutor earlier this week. With the smuggling of cannabis by such organisations through eastern Libya, a move to decriminalise cannabis would reduce the incomes of both the terror group and Italian Mafia families.

North African hashish is compressed cannabis resin. It is smuggled from Casablanca, Morocco to Tobruk, Libya. Chief anti-Mafia prosecutor of Italy Franco Roberti told Reuters that this route is undoubtedly controlled by IS as IS controls the Libyan coast along the Gulf of Sirte. The city of Sirte sits along the route, which serves as a Mediterranean base for IS.

“Decriminalisation or even legalization would definitely be a weapon against traffickers, among whom there could be terrorists who make money off of it,” Roberti said.

For the Sicilian Mafia, Roberti states that teaming with IS was the only way which would allow the Mafia to continue using the Libya route for drug trafficking. The route is the main entrance for it to smuggle drugs into Italy and other parts of Europe. It is estimated that an Italian Mafia family earns about USD 36.10 billion through drug trafficking each year.

Decriminalising cannabis would hence likely cut the incomes of Italian Mafias and IS. Besides drug trafficking in Libya, IS is also part of the trade of hashish in Lebanon, with its take over of numerous cannabis crops at the border of Lebanon.

In light of the situation, Robert called for the decriminalisation of cannabis in not just in Italy, but throughout the whole of Europe.

At the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem (UNGASS) in New York, had member states divided over their stance on narcotics: while a growing number of countries, including several states in the US, have moved towards decriminalizing or legalizing drugs, others continue to execute people convicted of drug crimes. Three UN conventions prohibit drug use that is not medical or scientific.

Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam remains firm in his stance for a “drug-free Singapore, not a drug-tolerant Singapore.”on 20 April, Mr Shanmugam emphasised that Singapore will stick to its current approach on demand reduction of illegal drugs.

He also cited a literature review by the Institute of Mental Health with the conclusion that cannabis is harmful and addictive. While Roberti calls for less “investigative energy to fight street sales of soft drugs” such as cannabis, on the flip side, Mr Shanmugam stood by Singapore’s harsh stance on drug use at the General Assembly.

Nevertheless, Mr Shanmugam acknowledged that every country “should have the right to choose” what method works best for reducing drug abuse, and that he hoped the global community would be able to come to a consensus to address drug issues.

But at least one country took the same side with Roberti, Canada's Health minister, Jane Philpott said on Wednesday at the same UN assembly that the Liberal government would honour a vow made during last year’s election campaign and bring legislation to decriminalise and regulate recreational marijuana by next spring.

She said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana was kept away from children and would keep criminals from profiting from its sale. “We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures,” said Ms Philpott.

Leaders of the Global Commission on Drug Policy said the UN’s first special session on drugs in 18 years had failed to improve international narcotics policy, instead choosing to tweak its prohibition-oriented approach to drug regulation.

“The process was fatally flawed from the beginning,” said Richard Branson, the head of the Virgin Group, adding that it may “already be too late” to save the international drug law system.


Cannabis , also known as marijuana, originated in Central Asia but is grown worldwide today. The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief, and improved sleep.

Although cannabinoids are considered by some to be addictive drugs, their addictive potential is considerably lower than that of other prescribed agents or substances of abuse.

Source - National Cancer Institute (NCI) of United States