As pressure mounts on the Swiss government to legalize and regulate Cannabis, a new pilot scheme to give 5,000 citizens licenses could pave the way.
The Swiss Federal Commission for Addiction Issues recently called once again for cannabis to be legalized and regulated in Switzerland. It comes after pharmacists said they wanted to be able to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes. They want to start with a program to give a few thousand citizens legal medical cannabis cards.
If the lobbying is successful and the government acquiesces to the demands, it’s likely that Switzerland will be at the forefront of cannabis innovation and research in a global way. To date, one of the main issues surrounding cannabis following decades of draconian prohibition laws is that scientists and researchers can’t even study the plant properly for fear of falling on the wrong side of the law.
The new proposal is good news for those wanting to use cannabis medically or recreationally in Switzerland. It would also mark the first national trial of such a system in Europe – a model many other countries may come to follow in the not too distant future.
The drive in Switzerland for regulating cannabis is a conservative and reasonable one. The various proposals and drafts already include provisions aimed to protect the health of young people and educate them about cannabis before they try it for the first time.
For the time being, growing and selling cannabis is forbidden in Switzerland. Nevertheless, if police catch a Swiss citizen over the age of 18 with up to ten grams of cannabis, they may receive a fine, but the matter would not be made criminal.
However, these steps don’t seem to deter the Swiss from using cannabis as an estimated 200,000 people there use it. That’s a huge number of people considering Switzerland had a population of less than 8.5 million.
Most cannabis users in Switzerland are male teenagers, and most of those are occasional users. Only around one percent of the adult population admit using cannabis regularly – and that includes those who use it more than 20 days per month.
The latest legalization drive in Switzerland comes after the University of Bern was blocked from carrying out a scientific study on cannabis due to the law. CBD products from hemp that contain less than one percent THC are already permitted in Switzerland. Many stores sell pre-rolled pure hemp cigarettes which are enjoyed by many people. Swiss authorities are also looking to the states for inspiration.
Over in the USA, many states saw the chance to save money on enforcing cannabis prohibition laws and to make more money from tax. Both medical and recreational legalization in the US has gone well for the most part so far. It has also generated a lot of extra revenue for local municipalities; something the Swiss are looking into also.
While it still remains to be seen which way the winds of change will go in Switzerland, this new initiative is a step in the right direction. Europe is clearly following the US and monitoring closely how decriminalization and legalization of cannabis work out there in the short to long-term.