By Luke Sumpter

Funnily enough, Milan, a town with a worldwide commercial and cultural reach, has been out of the cannabis loop. Or at least, it was until last year, when Marco Russo, a newbie grow shop owner decided to challenge both the market and the politics.

Thanks to Marco, as well as the many other people and companies involved in his project, the second edition of the Italian 4.20 celebration victoriously took place again in Milan. 4.20 European Psychedelic HempFest 2017 is the name of the first Italian cannabis day, adding up to a few specialised trade fairs across the nation. It was a free, though responsible, cannabis feast. It was a big success and a political victory for the legalisation movement.

hemp fest milan 2017


From 4.20 pm to 4.20 am, a few thousand people of different ages and cultures crowded the Lambretta studios at the ex-industrial East end of town. This was the place where the Lambretta scooter used to be built, and these were 12 long hours dedicated to fair information on cannabis, experience exchange, and fun. Dozens of local and international companies from all the subsectors of the cannabis industry-sponsored the event. Some of them had their products and information points available for the public. We at Royal Queen Seeds was among the sponsors! Food and drinks were all based on hemp.

Milan is a business town. Many of the companies participating at this cannabis event were born over the last 2 years, they already employ dozens of people, and they demonstrate competence and innovation. That’s what the town ultimately likes. Here at 4.20 HempFest, both start-ups and consolidate businesses presented their latest cannabis genetics, new vaporizers and smoking devices, innovative garments and textiles, and co-friendly and healthy building materials, 3D prints with hemp composites. Conferences and workshops on industrial, nutritional and medical cannabis took place together with discussions on homemade cultivation in the main hall, while the free vape and chill out areas were steaming and the stage was being set up for a night of live music. This is also a party town.

Hemp Fest Milan 2017 Indoor


A couple of day before the event, all the political forces embodied in their municipal, regional, and media representatives felt like declaring their position on the event. This fact immediately confirmed that 4.20 HempFest 2017 was perceived to be much more than a stoner’s celebration.

Milan’s major Giuseppe Sala once again admitted to having smoked cannabis “when he was young”, and he was neutral, if not supporting, towards the 4.20 event in the town he is representing. The fragmented democratic and liberal areas were all somehow sponsoring the event, while the actual main party in the country, Movimento 5 Stelle, was present at the feast, fully endorsing the cannabis normalisation and the civil right to grow for personal use. In the eventuality that political parties actually do reflect the public opinion, this means the vast majority of Italians do support the legalisation of cannabis.

While 4.20 was lighting up on the muddy shore of the Lambro river that gave its name to the scooter, close to the central railway station a radical political representative was planting cannabis seeds in the Regional Government Palace front garden. He was identified by the police, giving the prohibitionists a further hint to mark this celebration as disadvantageous, illegal and dangerous. Catholic and extreme right wing believers are still opposing the normalisation of cannabis in Italy.

The same old political expression of a religious morale keeps slowing down the cultural and scientific progress, the economy, and the civil rights in this country. It happened in the seventies when the Church and its political arm tried to prevent legalisation of divorce and abortion, and it is happening once again now. The “official” Italian Catholic party passed away in the nineties, crumbled under the burden of criminal convictions for corruption. Since then, the religious ethics are shared, spread and forcedly inserted into the Parliament by various and eventual political characters. Now they demonise euthanasia, artificial insemination, and of course cannabis. With the majority in favour, though, they can stop progress; other 2 new and big trade fairs are scheduled in Milan by the end of 2017.

Hemp Fest 2017 Milan Outdoors


Almost all the Italian media covered the event. Lately, even some conservative newspapers or newsletters seemed to sport more open-minded opinions on cannabis, making us think that finally, the power of science must have opened their publishers’ eyes too. However, what’s really nice is that the three most culturally authoritative Italian newspapers gave full voice to this 4.20 event in their local and national news. Here is a photo album by Corriere della Sera titled “Cannabis, the party is in Lambrate”. Here is another slide show shoot by La Repubblica. The third main liberal media, il Fatto Quotidiano, has always been a strong supporter of cannabis normalisation, and used to cover this and other cannabis events with informative articles. A lot of TV channels were also reporting the 4.20 Hemp Fest, so here is one of the videos. Needless to say, no police presence or medical intervention was needed, and no issues were reported from the neighbourhood or the participants.

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