The Guardian

'It saved our business': Italy's farmers turn low into high with cannabis

Hemp cultivation for non-pharmaceutical could help revert desiccation of farm land
Salvo Scuderi at his hemp farm outside Catenanuova, Sicily. Since 2016 it has been legal to cultivate hemp with a THC level below 0.2%. Photograph: Francesco Bellina/Cesura

Italian farmers are in crisis as low prices of wheat, desiccated land and big companies importing grain take their toll. But some have found a solution: growing cannabis.

Hemp cultivation has been legal in Italy since 2016, and over the last few years the amount of land dedicated to the plant has increased from 400 hectares (1,000 acres) in 2013 to 4,000 hectares today.

The law – which allows cultivation for non-pharmaceutical use of plants with up to 0.2% of the psychoactive compound – was introduced with the intention of increasing the development of industrial hemp production.

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