Drug policy reformers in the United States have long looked to Europe as an example of progressive policies to end the harms of the failed Drug War. Switzerland has been an innovative pioneer, but has somewhat fallen behind other countries on cannabis, currently implementing just limited decriminalization and medical policies, although a definite leader on low-THC, high-CBD products. Well, Switzerland may have just jump started its move towards legalizing cannabis for all adults after a top health department, the Swiss Federal Commission for Addiction Issues, just released a report calling for an end to cannabis prohibition.
This landmark announcement, coming just before cannabis industry experts and advocates converge upon Zurich for the International Cannabis Business Conference and CannaTrade this May 15-16, will hopefully lead to concrete policy changes soon as the Swiss health commission stated in its report:
All scientific studies on the risks associated with consumption show that cannabis causes little physical and psychological damage. Risks arise mainly from the consumption of products containing a high percentage of THC, simultaneous consumption of tobacco, use during childhood and early adolescence, and long-term use.
The good work done in prevention and treatment has been confirmed over the past ten years. However, developments and consumption patterns show that it is very important to put in place risk reduction measures for consumers. However, the existing ban prevents the adoption of harm reduction and risk minimization measures, as well as the extension of preventive measures.
The current reports provide a solid foundation for the continuation of the political process and the constructive development of the Narcotics Law. The Federal Commission for Addiction Issues (CFLA) therefore recommends that:
The Narcotics Act be adapted so that:
- cannabis use is no longer punished;
- a regulated cannabis market can develop in Switzerland, with controls in terms of concentration of ingredients, production, distribution and sale of products;
- risk and damage reduction measures can be applied.
Hopefully, Swiss legislators and policymakers will listen to their addiction experts and move forward with legalization sooner rather than later. A federal pilot program has been considered and Swiss pharmacies would like to dispense cannabis to both patients and consumers, but hopefully the Swiss cannabis community can also have the legal right to cultivate a personal garden as well. It is great to see such a prominent governmental health agency call for cannabis legalization. I look forward to seeing Switzerland move forward as nation-by-nation we are legalizing more freedom, jobs, and revenue.
If you want to learn the latest about exciting developments in Switzerland, and around the world, the International Cannabis Business Conference Zurich, a partnership with CannaTrade, is THE place to be. There are still tickets available, but hurry before the event sells out!