Franco Roberti, the top mafia prosecutor in Italy, told Reuters that decriminalising cannabis would not only fight Islamic State but the mafia, too. They collaborate on the smuggling of hashish.
Islamic State controls the cannabis trade
Roberti explained that the principal smuggling route for hash from North Africa is from Casablanca in Morocco, through Algeria and Tunisia, and then on to Tobruk, eastern Libya. At its closest point, Libya is a few hundred miles from Italy. En route is the coastal city of Sirte in Libya, the Mediterranean base of the largest Islamic State franchise outside of Syria and Iraq. So Islamic State controls the path.
… and the mafia helps
Investigations whose details have yet to be made public found that the Italian mafia, long behind most of a drug trade the UN valued at £25bn a year, had worked with “suspected terrorists” on the trafficking of hash. Roberti is all too familiar with the mafia, having fought it for three decades, and also sees a way to fight Islamic State. He stated, “Decriminalisation or even legalisation would definitely be a weapon against traffickers.” Drugs provide seven percent of Islamic State revenue, per a recently-published report by the analysis company, IHS. While Italy is yet to be attacked by Islamic State, the organisation’s films often mention Rome and the Vatican as targets. The risk of terrorist attack at many sites is considered high.
… so let’s hit them both
In his book, Il Contrario Della Paura (The Opposite of Fear), 68-year-old Roberti expounded at length on the commonalities of Islamic militant groups and Italy’s mafia: for one, they both finance themselves through the smuggling of archaeological relics, art, commercial goods, drugs and oil and kidnap and extortion. Roberti remarked that it would be possible to fight Islamic State and the mafia at the same time.
Don’t bother with cannabis dealers
Resources are being wasted in the pursuit of cannabis dealers, which has resulted in a rise rather than a fall in trafficking of this drug. According to Roberti, there has been a “total failure of repressive actions” and continuing to fight cannabis use was “neither imaginable nor desirable.”
In February 2015, Roberti’s office, which fights the Mafia, was also told to fight Islamic State, overseeing investigations into terrorism. He favours decriminalisation of cannabis but not harder drugs. He has previously commented that cannabis use in Italy is as widespread as that of alcohol and tobacco. The US state of Colorado has raked in millions of dollars after legalising cannabis. Regarding decriminalisation, Roberti calls for “an Italian domestic debate, but also a European one.”
Italy has traditionally been one of the most prohibitionist countries in Europe, but more than 200 lawmakers from the governing party and two others proposed the legalisation of cannabis earlier in the year. While an Ipsos poll found 60 percent of people supported the measure, party leaders did not. The far right opposed the bill, arguing that prostitution ought to be regulated first because “sex is not harmful but cannabis is.”
Header image from Sickchirpse