Rome (AFP) - Italy eased up slightly on cannabis growers Friday, decriminalising those who violate agreed terms on cultivating the plants for therapeutic purposes.
"This does not decriminalise those growing weed on their terrace," warned Justice Minister Andrea Orlando. Under the new bill, people who abuse their permission to cultivate cannabis will be slapped with a fine rather than a prison sentence.
Those caught growing their own personal crop without a license still face up to a year in jail and a four-million euro fine.
The aim is to help ease Italy's notoriously congested justice system and "make sanctions more effective", Orlando said.
In July, over 200 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum submitted a bill to legalise the cultivation of a small amount of cannabis for personal recreational use.
One company, betting on cannabis use becoming legal for all in Italy by the end of the year, launched a website this week to recruit people interested in the idea of setting up a franchised shop.
Nativa said Italians consume "some three million kilogrammes of cannabis a year" -- grounds for a potentially rich business.