Italian Gelato Shop Promotes Legal Marijuana With Weed-Infused Gelato

By McCarton Ackerman 02/26/16

Italy is pushing for marijuana legalization in the best way that they know how: food.

 Italian Gelato Shop Promotes Legal Marijuana With Weed-Infused Gelato
Photo via Shutterstock

A gelato shop in the coastal village of Alassio has released a flavor of cannabis crème gelato called “Marley.” Shop owner Emanuela Baudana teamed up with Canapa Ligure, a legalization advocacy group that has convinced local restauranteurs to sprinkle cannabis on everything from chocolate to pizza.

“Our role in the production of the ice cream was simply connecting the shop with the seeds seller,” said Alberto Barbieri, founder of Canapa Ligure. But in the same way that having a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide won’t get you drunk, Baudana confirmed that having a scoop of Marley won’t get you high.

A set of legislative measures that would decriminalize production and consumption of marijuana in Italy received support from 250 lawmakers in both conservative and liberal parties last July. However, marijuana laws in Italy range from being some of the most relaxed to among the harshest in Europe. Medical marijuana has been legal in Italy since 2013, and a bill was passed this year to give medical marijuana growers small fines instead of jail time for various growing violations. But for those who are caught using marijuana recreationally, punishments are as extreme as up to a year in prison and a fine of four million euros. In 2006, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi tripled sentences for possessing, selling and cultivating marijuana.

Some of Italy’s reasoning for legalizing marijuana is also financial. A Council of Europe report confirmed that in 2012, the country had 20,000 more inmates than beds—many of whom are behind bars for non-violent drug crimes—making Italy's the second most crowded prison system in Europe. Italy’s debt reached an all-time high in 2014 at $2.6 trillion. Regulating marijuana could alleviate a great deal of this debt.

Although it’s unclear how effective weed-infused desserts will be in bringing about marijuana legalization, the concept has made its way stateside. Ben & Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield told HuffPost Live last February that they were open to selling cannabis-infused ice cream in U.S. states where cannabis is currently legal. Greenfield said he thought “legalizing marijuana is a wonderful thing, rather than putting people in jail.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.