Bologna: Ganja Paradise


As Italy flirts with the idea of legalisation, the city of Bologna already seems to be laying the groundwork for cannabis to blossom. Mild weed shops, stressed students, street dealers… everyone seems to be benefitting from the herb whose trade can spark cold sweats. Report.

Monday morning, 9 am – the sky is blue over Via Zamboni and the surrounding neighbourhood, where most of the University of Bologna department buildings are located. Francesca* is late for her first class, but she would have liked to smoke up before starting her day. Unfortunately, she finished her stash yesterday and there’s not a soul in sight on Piazza Verdi. Too bad, she’ll have to ask one of her uni classmates. Marco* usually sorts her out. Worst comes to worst, she’ll have to find some later on in the day.

Hemp supporters

Finding cannabis in Bologna isn’t hard. Despite having a small city centre, there are three main areas for suppliers: the Pratello district in the west, the Montagnola park near the station and the Piazza Verdi in the east where the main student centre is. Not far from there, on Via Indipendenza, there’s a slogan on the ceiling of one of the city’s many archways: “Panis vita, cannabis protectio, vinum latetita” [NB. “Bread is life, cannabis is protection, wine is joy”]. The inscription is a reference to the historic production and trade of hemp in the region, and could easily become the motto the province Emila-Romagna‘s capital city once again.