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Italian Parliament in Uproar: Who Used What?

November 22, 1988

ROME (AP) _ The talk in Parliament these days is drugs - not so much the proposals for a new law, but the smoking and the sniffing reportedly done by the members themselves.

This week’s issue of Panorama, a newsweekly, ran a cover story titled ″Honorable Mr. Joint,″ which surveyed members of the lower house and their drug habits, especially whether they had ever smoked marijuana.

″Did I ever smoke joints? And who didn’t do it, among my generation,″ the article quoted a Communist Party deputy, Flora Calvanese, 34, as saying.

″In politics, cocaine also makes the rounds,″ according to Clemente Mastella, who serves as spokesman for the Christian Democrats, Italy’s dominant party. He made clear he was talking about others, not himself.

A furor began when the article appeared. Politicians were incensed not only over knowing who used drugs and who didn’t, but about those who talked.

″I only answered the question,″ a defensive Mastella was quoted as saying in Tuesday’s La Repubblica, a leading national daily newspaper, ″and I didn’t believe that the drug issue would suddenly be transformed into a frivolous game, into such gossip over the use and habits of Parliamentarians.″

Italy’s preoccupation over its drug problem - aggravated by all-time highs for overdose deaths and its link with AIDS - already had put politicians in controversy.

Claudio Martelli, the No. 2 man in the rising Socialist Party of former Premier Bettino Craxi, was taken to task with his appeal to have no penalties for users of ″light″ drugs such as marijuana. Craxi had called for a law that would punish users as well as sellers of drugs.

One member of Parliament who disapproved of drug use was Hungarian-born porno movie star, Ilona Staller, known as ″Cicciolina″ to her screen fans. ″No, no joints for me,″ she was quoted as saying in Panorama.

″My drug is sex and I emerse myself in it. If my colleagues did the same thing, it would be one big, beautiful thing,″ she said.

Her party, the Radicals, proposed sarcastically that a drug rehabilitation center be opened in Parliament.

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