Controlled substances

Controlled substances in Italy are classified in six lists:

List I: Opiates and cocaine derivatives;
List II: Cannabis;
List III: Highly addictive barbiturates;
List IV: Medical substances;
List V: Special preparations containing drugs;
List VI: Stimulants

Illicit activities related to drugs are punished differently according to the list to which the drug belongs: lists II and IV are less severely punished than lists I and III.

Drug use and possession

Use of drugs is not mentioned in the law as a criminal offence. However, possession of all drugs is prohibited and punishable by administrative sanctions in case of personal use, and by prison sentences in case of dealing or trafficking.

When a person is found in possession of drugs classified in tables II or IV (marijuana, hashish, (II), therapeutic drugs which can produce dependence (IV)) and they are only for personal use, the person will be summonsed for an interview with the Prefect of Police or his representative. If the person agrees to refrain from offending in the future, on the first occasion of the summons, he may receive a warning of the dangers of drugs and be formally requested not to use illegal substances again. If the person is a minor, this approach is used no matter in which table the drug is listed. Wherever possible in such cases the family of the person is informed on the facts and invited to contact available social/health services.

Should the person be found in unlawful possession of a controlled drug again, he may be re-summonsed to a meeting where the reasons for the violation are examined and new arrangements may be established to prevent further violations. In such instances the Prefect is assisted by advisers from local health/social services and at this stage the person may be subject to administrative sanctions. These include suspension of driving and gun licences, of the passport and of other equivalent documents. As said the law makes a distinction between drugs in table I (opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.) and table III (barbiturates and hypno-sedatives) and drugs in table II (cannabis) and IV. For the former group, the administrative sanctions are for a period of four months whilst for the latter group the sanctions are reduced for a period of 2 months.

Someone summonsed for an interview having been found in unlawful possession of drugs may voluntarily request a treatment or rehabilitation service (as defined in the law). At this point proceedings are suspended whilst the user is referred to the Services for Treatments (Ser.T) for an assessment, which must be completed within a specified time. If the user fails to attend the programme or leaves without a valid reason, he is called for a second interview with the Prefect or his representative and advised that he should follow the programme and of the consequences if he fails to do so.

A second failure results in a referral to either the public prosecutor for the magistrates court (in the case of adults) or the public prosecutor for the juvenile courts (in the case of minors).

Anyone who has more than two failures in attending or completing a treatment programme with no valid reason, is subject to one or more of the following measures: prohibition to leave the place of residence without authorisation; obligation to present themselves at least twice a week to the police; be subject to a curfew; be banned from visiting certain locations indicated in the order; have suspended driving and gun licences, passport and equivalent documents; be obliged to undertake unpaid work for the benefit of the community at least one working day a week; seizure of any vehicle owned by the user which was used to transport or hold drugs, as well as confiscation of the drugs; probation assignment; and in the case of non-Italians, suspension of the residence permit. These may be imposed for a period of 3 to 8 months in the case of table I and III drugs and for a period of 2 to 4 months in the case of drugs in tables II and IV.

Trafficking and drug related crime

The penalty for production and/or trafficking at an individual level is of 8 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of between €25,000-250,000 (table I and III drugs) and 2 to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of between €5,000-77,000 (table II and IV drugs) where significant quantities of drugs are involved.

For smaller quantities, but larger than for personal use, the penalty is 1 to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of between €2,600-26,000 (table I and III) and 6 months to 4 years imprisonment and a fine of between €1,000-10,000 (table II and IV).

Substitution Treatment

For imprisoned drug users there exists the opportunity to start or to re-start treatment and subsequently apply for an alternative measure instead of the prison sentence to complete the treatment in a therapeutic environment. The treatment service must provide the court with a declaration explaining the treatment proposed and its suitability for the client and the court must be convinced of the client's commitment to undertake the treatment programme.

Alternative measures are available for all offenders where they meet the criteria defined in the law. For drug using offenders, the focus is specifically on treatment and rehabilitation measures which address both criminal behaviour and, as importantly, drug-using behaviour which may have been an important factor in offending.


Failure to notify the Central Directorate of Drug Control Services in the Ministry of Interior (DCSA) of individual commercial transactions in respect of the substances processed by them (this obligation shall also apply to operators undertaking import, export and transit operations) can be punished by up to 1 year in prison or a fine of €250-2,500, and may result in the chemical trading licence being suspended for between 1 month and 1 year. Law also requires co-operation with the DCSA, by providing other information requested or notifying the DCSA of suspicious circumstances with regard to the controlled substances. Failure to provide this would be an administrative offence with a fine of €500-2,500 and suspension of the chemical trading licence.

Import, export or transit of Category 1 substances without a licence or the required permit is punished by 4-10 years in prison and a fine of €10,000-100,000. Any licence may be revoked and a new licence cannot be obtained for 4 years. Export of Category 2 or 3 substances without a licence or the required permit will result in up to 1 year in prison or a fine of €250-2,500. In any case of import, exporting or transiting controlled substances without a licence or permit, the activities of the operator may be suspended for between 1 month and 1 year. Supplying Category 1 substances within the EU to persons without authorisation to receive them may result in up to 1 year in prison or a fine of €250-2,500.


The Italian regulations on tobacco prohibits the sale and supply of tobacco to minors under 16 years of age.

Smoking in public and private premises open to the public is prohibited. Among public venues are hospitals, cinemas, theatres, and Public Administration offices open to the public. Premises open to the public are for instance bars and restaurants. The law also include a prohibition about smoking in the workplace and prisons.


The legal age to purchase alcohol is 16. It is strictly forbidden to drink-drive, and there is a zero tolerance policy.