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Swiss National Council Health Commission Votes to Legalize Cannabis



Switzerland is pushing closer to legalizing cannabis for adult use, with lawmakers in the country’s National Council Health Commission, the country’s lower legislative body, voting 13-11 on Friday in favor of a plan that would legalize cannabis recreationally for adult consumption, according to a Zürichsee-Zeitung report.

The country’s current, adult-use cannabis pilot program was approved last September and legalized access for 5,000 registered study participants. The program deemed the cannabis must be produced in Switzerland and be organic, that THC content is capped out at 20 percent and that products come in child-resistant packaging and appropriate labeling for safety and cannabinoid content. 

The new plan was proposed by National Council Member Heinz Siegenthaler and looks to increase the current pilot program to include all adults.

Siegenthaler argued during his presentation that federal cannabis prohibition failed because the unregulated marketplace is flourishing and people are consuming at all all-time high. The black market does not allow for the country to collect tax revenue and also doesn’t allow the government to conduct proper prevention programs. This trend is not unique to Switzerland, as many European countries have seen similar upticks in the black market.

In addition, regardless of the current legal state of cannabis, many residents still regularly use it. Around 500,000 Swiss people regularly consume cannabis products, or about six percent of the country’s eight million residents, according to estimates.

The country already decriminalized minor cannabis possession (up to 10 grams) in 2012, but possession is still punishable by fine of up to 100 Swiss francs (about $110). Cannabis containing one percent or less THC has been legal to manufacture and distribute in Switzerland since 2011.

If the proposal ends up being fully approved by the National Council, then the next move will be to the Council of States, which is the upper body of Switzerland’s Federal Assembly.