The Cannabis Referendum in Italy
by Tancredi Simone Teresi - PPE( Politics, Philosophy, Economics) Student at the University of York
DECEMBER 23, 2021
One of the members of the city council of Palermo, Fabio Teresi, Presidente di circoscrizione di Palermo, Sicily , has met with Tancredi Simone Teresi, PPE student at the University of York to discuss in an interview, the impacts of the cannabis referendum on the city of Palermo and its possible consequences on the Mafia
1. What impact would the legalisation of cannabis have on Palermo? And what led you to support this referendum?
We know very well that in large Italian cities, the risk of getting close to certain environments close to the mafia is very high. This is complicated in a city like Palermo, where it is a certain fact that the underworld and the mafia also feed on drug dealing, and therefore I believe that legalizing soft drugs can have two benefits: giving an economic blow to the mafia. and criminal organizations, but also a chance to prevent new generations to get involved in dangerous environments.
2. Some critics of the referendum such as Giubilei argue that the legalization of cannabis merely legalizes organized crime, and the late judge Paolo Borsellino stated that” It’s amateur criminologists who think that by liberalising drug trafficking the entire illegal drug trade will vanish and we’ll effectively declaw the Mafia.’ How would you respond to such criticism?
I think it is wrong to think that the legalization of cannabis can lead to a legalization of organized crime. Having such a productive market run by the state cannot lead to great benefits, and to targeted control against any illegal activity. 3. I think that referendums are used to feel the pulse of the people on some delicate and very important issues, but at the same time I think that a parliament must be able to choose and give a political line to the state and the people. So referendums are important, but they should not be considered a full alternative to parliamentary politics.
3. Do you think that Italy should have more referenda on key issues? And do you think that referendums may be more efficient in tackling an issue?
I think that referendums are used to feel the pulse of the people on some delicate and very important issues, but at the same time I think that a parliament must be able to choose and give a political line to the state and the people. So referendums are important, but they should not be considered a full alternative to parliamentary politics.
4. Do you think that on the same wave of the referendum would it be feasible to involve the citizens more, specially from the peripheries, into decision-making processes? For example, in the fight to declaw the Mafia?
I believe that the participation of citizens is essential to better govern a city and a country, so the more participation there is, the easier it is to govern. This way you can also avoid making bad choices.
5. Whether or not the referendum would help weakening the Mafia, do you think Palermo is now in a different condition than 29 years ago, when Paolo Borsellino haven been murdered? Do you think the citizens are now more sensible to the fight against organised crime?
Absolutely yes. We have lived through dark years in this city; before '92 Palermo was very different from what it is today. We now live in a completely different climate. I think that massacres have contributed in part to create a sense of liberation from citizens, and many have found themselves at a crossroads: choosing to continue to keep their eyes and mouth closed, or to free themselves from the phenomenon of the Mafia. Fortunately, many have chosen a revolt of conscience, in short, a social awareness. But this does not mean by name the guard, on the contrary. We must continue to fight, with the awareness that even the mafia has changed in recent years.
6. If the referendum is successful, do you have further steps in mind that could be useful to involve citizens in politics more and to weaken the Mafia’s threat
I am convinced of the existence of a new generation of politicians who want, indeed demand, to be credible. We are trying to do this, through an administrative experience that focuses on the active participation of citizens. Urban decoration, for example, is a fundamental aspect to make our citizens live better, because I am strongly convinced that rediscovering the beauty of admitting citizens to live better, and in harmony with their city.