The Dark and Light Aspects of Italian Legislation on Substances of Abuse

  • A. Coluccia
Conference paper


On June 1990 the Italian Parliament enforced a new law (Public Law 162) that considered illegal the use of any dose of illicit drugs. The approval of the law was preceded and accompanied by endless debates between political, humanitarian and scientific agencies taking side in favour or against the principle that personal use of an illicit drug is a crime.

The 162 Law introduced also the legal concept of “average daily dose” (i.e., the dose of an active substance sufficient to cover the daily needs of a drug addict) as a criterion for: a) distinguishing between a drug addict and a drug dealer; b) graduating the severity of the sanction (administrative for the drug addict, and penal for the drug dealer). Moreover, the drug addict has the choice between the administrative sanction and the acceptance of a therapeutic program. The commutation of the penalty will hold only if the therapeutic program results in a complete detoxification of the drug addict. In fact, relapse into drug use is equated to recidivism into legal offence and, as such, punished with penal sanctions. Such an ambivalent evaluation of a behavior, which can be either punished or cured according to rather arbitrary criteria, became matter of heated debates. The legal principle according to which an inadequate behavior can be considered pathological to the limited extent that a therapeutic prescription will prevent relapses, only applies to a few acute disease, and denies the existence of the most common chronic ones. The continuously increasing pressure of criticisms resulted in the call for a popular referendum which, in 1993, abrogated the principle of illegality for the personal use of illicit drugs. Hopefully, this fact may become the basis from which a rational bill for drug addiction control may arise.


Illicit Drug Drug Addiction Drug Abuser Drug Addict Average Daily Dose 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    The decree of the Ministry of Health of August 7, 1980 and on October 1980. Were also effective at the time.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Coluccia A., Marzi A.: La tossicodipendenza fra problemi vecchi e nuovi. Considerazioni medico legali e criminologiche in margine alla sentenza della Corte Costituzionale (10–11 Luglio 1991, n° 333) in Zacchia, 4, 1991.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Riccioni R., Riccioni M.M.: Gli stupefacenti. Cedam. Padova, 1993Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Coluccia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Legal MedicineUniversity of SienaItaly

Personalised recommendations