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Law Switzerland


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The Swiss government wants to make it easier for medical patients to access cannabis.

Last month they introduced a bill allowing Switzerland to legalize cannabis for qualifying patients. This will replace the current medical cannabis system in Switzerland, which requires patients to get an ‘illegal drug exemption’ from the federal government.

The proposed bill coincides with a separate governmental push allowing several cities to experiment with recreational cannabis. In February, discussions began for Switzerland to legalize a test group of citizens to legally consume recreational cannabis. The government will then study these citizens. The studies aim to gather information on cannabis use and pilot the new recreational cannabis laws. These changes seem to indicate that Switzerland will soon give adult-use cannabis the green light.


Medical Cannabis in Switzerland
Currently, Swiss patients looking for exemption status must apply through the Federal Health Office. Swiss patients must obtain medical cannabis in a very roundabout way. Despite that, 3000 Swiss residents treated themselves with this medicine over the past 2 years. The majority of patients receiving cannabis treatment in Switzerland are older adults with incurable conditions like end-stage cancer or multiple sclerosis.

The June bill aims to help patients with similar conditions to those already receiving cannabis treatment. The main conditions the proposed law highlights are chronic neuropathic and cancer pain, spasticity and cramps from neurological conditions, and nausea and loss of appetite from chemotherapy.

In a statement about the proposed law, the Swiss cabinet highlights the advantages of a regulated system. They write,”The proposal makes it possible for doctors to directly prescribe cannabis as part of their treatment.”

Wait Until October
A formal comment period on the proposed law is currently in process until October, after which point a decision will be made.

The proposed medical cannabis law leaves Switzerland with a series of regulatory challenges. A major challenge is how medical cannabis will be paid for. Healthcare in Switzerland is run by private insurance companies, not the state. However, enrolment in health insurance is compulsory for all residents. These private health companies are hesitant to provide coverage for medical cannabis as they currently view it as a “holistic” or “alternative” healthcare treatment.

“The biggest obstacle to automatic reimbursement is that the scientific evidence of efficacy is not yet sufficient and the conclusions of existing studies are sometimes contradictory,” the Swiss government comments.

Swiss Already Cannabis Pioneers
Switzerland is currently undergoing a political push to reshape its cannabis laws. The debate over Swiss cannabis came into the public eye last year. It sparked when the government blocked the University of Bern from undertaking a scientific study on the plant, due to its legal status.

Switzerland does already allow hemp with less than 1% THC to be produced. Their 1% limit is higher than the .2% THC limit in the rest of Europe and the US. The higher limit allows hemp plants to reach their full medical potential. The .2% limit forces farmers to harvest plants too quickly in their life cycle. In this way, the Swiss are already pioneers in cannabis law. They base regulations on research rather than copying other nations’ systems.

While the CBD industry in Switzerland is still young, statistics show the Swiss spent 5 times more on CBD products per capita than Americans in 2018.


Big Potential if Switzerland to Legalize
All of this points to a big potential in the Swiss cannabis market. Thankfully, the government seems open to negotiating cannabis laws. There will be a pilot study. The Swiss government are looking to allow 5000 residents to use recreational cannabis legally. The aim of the study is to provide statistics and information on cannabis use to shape a new regulatory system.

“Without undermining the general cannabis prohibition, we need to be able to test new regulation models under the current situation,” the government wrote in a statement on the proposed study.

The Swiss government also seems to recognize the need for new regulatory systems. They are aware that their citizens are already using cannabis. Estimates show that 200,000 of Switzerland’s 8 million residents use illegal cannabis.

“Cities point to the negative impact of current laws, illegal trade in public places that is increasingly disruptive and makes people feel unsafe, and resource-sapping efforts to curb drug sales in urban areas,” the government statement says. “As a result, some cities want to find out how controlled access to cannabis affects its consumption, buying behaviors and the health of participants.”

In conclusion, with multiple political efforts by Switzerland to legalize cannabis, we may see the Swiss become the first European country to fully legalize and regulate the plant.
Switzerland’s recreational cannabis pilot program will only allow organic products

Switzerland’s lower house health commission cleared the way for a limited pilot program to allow the legal production and distribution of recreational marijuana.

The move is not intended to be a first step toward full legalization. The general recreational cannabis prohibition will continue.

The results of the experiment will be used for future evidence-based cannabis policy, although it isn’t yet clear when the pilot will begin.

“Despite the ban, around 200,000 people in Switzerland regularly use cannabis with more than 1% THC content for consumption,” according to an estimate in a Swiss Federal Council press release.

The Swiss parliament recently announced the legislative action paving the way for the adult-use pilot program.

In December 2019, the Swiss National Council narrowly approved the experiment without providing many details, leaving the Commission for Social Security and Health of the Council to fill in the blanks.

While the Commission largely followed the council’s proposal, it differed by deciding to allow only Swiss-grown organic cannabis – or Cannabisprodukte aus schweizerischer Biolandwirtschaft – in the experiment.

The move is aimed at benefiting domestic farmers.

The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs forbids international trade in marijuana not destined for medical or scientific purposes.

Pilot program details

The Swiss Federal Council said in a press release that only adults at least 18 years old will be able to participate in the experiment.

Those participating will be closely monitored, including their health status.

Participants need to be current cannabis consumers to qualify for the experiment.

Consumption in public areas won’t be allowed.

Employers and schools, in particular, will be informed about the participation of their employees or students in the study.

The Federal Council identified in its previous communication a number of problems in connection with the current use of cannabis in Switzerland.

They include:

  • A significant, flourishing black market.
  • Product quality not subject to any controls.
  • High repression costs.
  • Difficult to reach consumers with prevention measures.
The Swiss pilot would allow policymakers to carry out a study to collect evidence without having to end the general ban on recreational marijuana. This hasn’t been possible until now due to the lack of a legal basis.

European pilots

Uruguay remains the only country in the world outside of North America that allows the commercial production of recreational cannabis.

In Europe, no country has legalized its commercial production.

Some countries are using temporary pilot programs – both medical and recreational – to test the waters.

In Europe, the Netherlands is moving forward with a limited experiment to legally produce recreational marijuana for coffee shops in some municipalities.

In Luxembourg, the government coalition promised full legalization within the current legislative period.

Other European countries have started pilots only for medical.

In France, authorities decided to gather evidence from 3,000 patients. It’s expected that the first products for the experiment will be imported.

Denmark is currently in he midst of its own pilot program for medical cannabis, and so far there is a good chance it will be extended.

However, the country still has no locally-produced products on the market and is completely reliant on imports.

Ireland launched a five-year medical marijuana trial program in 2019.

Europe’s First Cannabis Wellness Spa Opens in Switzerland

The Schlosshotel Zermatt in Switzerland offers the first canna-scented relaxation clinic at the foot of the Matterhorn.

In a move that was inevitable, if not out of an upscale version of Cheech and Chong’s Great European Cannabis Adventure, the first cannabis wellness spa has now opened its doors in Switzerland.

Promoting itself through the German-speaking press as a place to relax aus hanf —in other words, an interpretation of cannabis luxury wellness of the cannabidiol kind, it is certainly a well-timed venture. It is not only safe from changing regulations (although the country is launching its own recreational trial), but also bound to attract COVID-weary adventurers looking for a luxury getaway.

Hemp muesli and yoga with CBD oil-scented massages certainly sounds enticing, particularly as an après ski event. The winter season lasts through April in this part of the world.

Beyond this, of course, luxury wellness never really goes out of style.

Cannabis Wellness Retreats​

While still staying in safe territory, this CBD Schlosshotel is clearly the beginning of a massive, cannabis-themed wellness trend now on schedule to roll out through this part of the world. It will not be long before higher THC offerings are part of the mix. The Swiss experiment with full cannabis legalization almost guarantees that.

None of the projects of this ilk will be on the budget side for a while—but give it time. The hostel, hotel, and hospitality business, particularly when mixed with wellness cures, is a long-established tradition in this part of the world. Don’t forget that beyond winter sports, whole towns in Switzerland and across the DACH region were established just as wellness retreats, often around a bubbling mineral well or two—and frequently available for summer as well as winter getaways.

Cannatourism is coming to Europe. This is just the first crest of a very large wave.

The Issues Involved with Cannabis Wellness Retreats​

Legally, such establishments are on the forefront of several developing aspects of cannabis case law across the region. This includes applications of so-called Novel Food as well as loopholes now being carved in sovereign Narcotics Laws. However, Switzerland is a very interesting place for this kind of cannabis-hospitality model to begin to flourish given the waivers now being accepted by the government as the country implements a unique experiment in the region.

Edibles, including those containing THC, will be available from not only the country’s pharmacies, but also “cannabis clubs.” A wellness experience that incorporates a higher level of THC is only a matter of time here.

What About Other EU Countries Outside of Switzerland?​

Given the delay right now across the DACH and EU border on all things recreational cannabis reform related, any unique development in neighboring countries is bound to be both studied if not potentially copied down the road. The German Alps feature cultural and wellness experiences not so far afield from Zermatt, even if occasionally of a more budget friendly kind. However, fairly radical changes in the law here, unless certain regulations are waved (as the Swiss have done) will be necessary before this kind of retreat would be possible in either Germany or Austria.

That said, nothing is entirely off the table. It is all just a matter of time. Not to mention the success of such experiments right across a German-speaking border or two.

In Spain, there are experiments like this afloat, although sometimes occurring in “secret” locations. But so far, such establishments have limited themselves to CBD, at least on their promotional material, for understandable reasons.

One thing is for sure. The cannabis luxury wellness experience is here to stay. Other kinds of similarly-themed vacations and destination spots are absolutely sure to follow.

Legal Cannabis Pilot Program Officially Launches in Zurich, Switzerland

Pre-approved participants can now purchase cannabis at specific pharmacies and social clubs in Zurich for the next three years.

In Switzerland, a pilot program called “Züri Can – Cannabis with Responsibility” officially began on Aug. 22 and will run for three years, concluding in 2026. According to Swissinfo, a multilingual news source based in Sweden, participants may purchase cannabis at nine pharmacies and six social clubs, but can only consume them in private rooms, or in one of the designated social clubs.

The study includes 1,200 pre-approved participants (80% of which are men, ranging between 18 to 80 years of age) who are permitted to purchase legal cannabis. In order to apply, these participants were required to meet specific criteria, including living in one of the 12 districts of Zurich, having already consumed cannabis regularly for more than a year, having good knowledge of German, do not work as a professional driver (taxi, bus, etc.) in any capacity, and are not currently pregnant. Although the study is already underway, residents who meet the criteria can still apply for a chance to participate.

Participants are required to select one supply point, or cannabis pharmacy or club, and cannot change it after it is selected. After purchasing cannabis, participants will regularly be sent online surveys to study the impact of cannabis sales, as well as how it affects consumer health. “The trial will have a broad focus to gain data on the effects of different strengths of cannabis, on what helps individuals make informed decisions and on the pros and cons of different models of sale,” said Zurich municipal health department project manager, Barbara Burri.

The pilot program was first announced back in September 2021, but the program was delayed in October 2022 due to “complexity of the project with its differen[t] reference points.” However, the program received a green light earlier this year in March, when the Zurich city government and Zurich University Hospital approved two cultivators to be used for the program: Pure Production and Swissextract.

Pure Production currently offers two concentrates, Sour Pollen and Lemon Resin, for use in the study. “Today marks the start of the sale of cannabis products for the pilot project ‘Züri Can – Cannabis with Responsibility,’” Pure Production published on Instagram. “As proud partners, we’re elated to be part of this groundbreaking initiative. Pure Production AG has the honor to provide two distinct hash products and, in the near future, flower offerings, furthering our commitment to excellence and quality.”

On Swissextract’s website, the company describes its cannabis cultivation operation, which includes 2,500 plants grown in a 1,000 square meter greenhouse). “Three cannabis strains with an ideal cannabinoid and terpene profile were selected for the study: one with the maximum allowable THC content of 20%, one in the mid-range of 12-13%, and one that has a very balanced content of 10% THC and 10% CBD,” Swissextract wrote. The strain names include Cairo Dessert (Fruit Tartar x Sinai), Apricot Mimosa (Mimosa x Purple Apricot), and Wedding Cake (Triangle Kush x Animal Mints).

According to the Zurich study website, new products including Jurassic Gold and Grand Marais concentrates from Pure Production, and Super Lemon Haze and Sour Diesel strains from Swissextract, will become available after fall 2023.

There is also another Swizterland-based study awaiting launch, called SCRIPT (Safer Cannabis Research In Pharmacies), which is expected to begin in fall this year. The SCRIPT program received approval from the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), the cantonal ethics committee of Bern, and ethics committee of Northwest and Central Switzerland, in May.

The study will be conducted by researchers from the University of Bern and Lucerne, and include the cities of Bern, Lucerne, and Biel. “The aim of the study is to investigate the health and social effects of a strictly regulated, non-profit-oriented sale of cannabis in pharmacies,” said SCRIPT study head Reto Auer. “Our study therefore does not aim to legalize cannabis in the free market—but to be able to address the problems caused by prohibition and the black market and to test possible harm reduction approaches, as well as a strict control of supply and distribution use demand for cannabis.”

As of July, the SCRIPT study has received 1,091 applications to participate. One SCRIPT applicant, referred to as E.S., is a 40-year -old individual who has been consuming since she was a teenager. In an interview with Swissinfo, she explained how cannabis has helped treat her menstrual pain, and is a reliable way to help her relax after work. “As a conscious consumer, I want to be able to decide what kind of cannabis to use,” she said. “Like a wine enthusiast, I want to discover the many varieties without depending on the black market.”

Swissinfo notes that it has taken more than 10 years for the SCRIPT program to finally begin. The last hurdle came in 2021 with the amendment of the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances, which put regulations in place for scientific studies.

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