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Is weed legal in Switzerland?

Is weed legal in Switzerland?

Table of contents

Medical: legal
Recreational: decriminalized

In 2012, Switzerland decriminalized the possession of marijuana, and since October 1, 2013, the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis is subject to an on the spot fine of CHF 100 ($107.8). Minors under the age of 18 can still face legal proceedings under Swiss juvenile criminal law. 

Since 2011, cannabis products that contain up to 1% THC are legal in Switzerland, leading to a growing market in “Cannabis Light” products. 

In September, 2020, the Swiss parliament passed regulations to allow for pilot schemes involving recreational cannabis. The pilot schemes will be limited to one municipality each, and can provide cannabis with up to 20% THC to a maximum of 5,000 registered participants at approved points of sale. The following September, it was announced that Zurich will be the first city to take part in the pilot study.

In a June, 2020 interview, a Swiss drug policy expert told Marijuana Business Daily that the scientific process behind the pilot program is expected to last five years, and that if everything goes as planned, the matter of full recreational cannabis legalization for adults could be debated by 2030.   

Under Swiss Law, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) can issue special permits for the medical use of prohibited narcotics (including cannabis), if a presiding physician submits an application to the FOPH with the patient’s consent. 

In 2019, the Swiss government proposed easing the guidelines for medical cannabis, to allow it for people suffering from serious illnesses, without the need to apply for an exception from the Federal Office of Public Health. 

In 2020, Prohibition Partners stated that there are currently an estimated 3,000 patients receiving medical cannabis treatment in Switzerland. 

How do the Swiss generally view marijuana? 

A 2021 survey of 3,166 Swiss adults found that two-thirds support pilot tests for the legalization of recreational cannabis, and that around 70% “find it important to reform the cannabis law in Switzerland.”

A 2004 study on attitudes towards cannabis use in Switzerland found that all four groups of respondents who took part “agreed that even though a political decision regarding decriminalization was pending (it has since then been rejected), cannabis use and sale was de facto tolerated in several parts of the country.”

But these numbers arguably run counter to the results of a 2008 vote, in which 63% of Swiss voters rejected a referendum to legalize the possession, sale, and cultivation of cannabis. 

What Swiss law permits medical patients?

Medical cannabis is available only in the form of pharmaceutical options, not flower or oil (Shutterstock)

There are currently only two cannabis-based medicines that are approved for medical cannabis patients in Switzerland – Sativex and Dronabinol. 

With a medical cannabis permit, a patient can possess and use these medicines, and access them at participating pharmacies. 

Swiss law does not allow approved medical cannabis patients to cultivate cannabis for their own personal use. 

Is CBD legal in Switzerland?

Because cannabis that contains less than 1% THC is legal in Switzerland, medical cannabis patients – and anyone else – can easily access CBD preparations at stores across the country. 

The law also allows people to bring CBD products into the country for personal use. 

Who qualifies for medical cannabis in Switzerland and what does it cost? 

Switzerland does not have a separate, dedicated state-run medical marijuana program. There is also no set list of qualifying health conditions, rather, the country allows physicians to apply to the FOPH for a special exemption for their patients on a  case by case basis. 

Medical cannabis products are not covered by the country’s compulsory health insurance, and patients can often face exorbitant monthly medication expenses. 

Can you grow your own weed in Switzerland?

Swiss law prohibits the cultivation of “narcotics containing an effective concentration of cannabinoids.” The law states that anyone who cultivates a narcotic without authorization “is liable to a custodial sentence not exceeding three years or to a monetary penalty.”

It is legal however to grow cannabis that has less than 1% THC. 

Visiting Switzerland – can you buy or bring marijuana products?

It is legal to bring cannabis products into Switzerland if they contain less than 1% THC. More information can be found on the Federal Customs Administration website.

The cannabis-based medicines Sativex and Dronabinol are exceptions to this guideline. Under Swiss law, travelers with an illness can carry medicines containing narcotics with them for a treatment period of one month – if the medicine does not contain any prohibited substances (such as cannabis with more than 1% THC). 

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