Officials at the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) announced on July 4 that it they have given the green light to reconsider its approach to medical and recreational cannabis in Switzerland.
The statement that the FOPH released cites a flourishing black market as cause to investigate how cannabis affects the health and safety of the public. “The Federal Council therefore wants to facilitate access to medicinal cannabis,” reads the statement, which was translated from Swiss to English. “He has instructed the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to adapt the legislation in this sense. In addition, the ban on marketing medicinal cannabis should be lifted. The EDI will prepare a draft consultation by summer 2019. In addition, the BAG is to examine the question of a possible reimbursement by the health insurance.”
According to The Local, Switzerland does not have established legislation to back up a medical cannabis program, although many groups have asked the government to consider studying cannabis. Currently, an estimated 200,000 people in Switzerland consume recreational cannabis. FOPH also noted that data from 2012 shows that 11 percent of 15 to 39-year-old adults were regularly consuming cannabis. In 2017, 3,000 people in the country were using medical cannabis to treat their illnesses.
Switzerland loosened its consequences on cannabis crimes in 2013. Now, those caught in violation of the law by carrying 10 grams or less are subject to a 100-franc fine, rather than enduring criminal proceedings.
While Switzerland is taking a large step toward establishing its cannabis industry, this is just the beginning. The Federal Department of Home Affairs will have one year until summer 2019 when it must craft regulations. Likewise, the Federal Office of Public Health will investigate how insurance companies can cover medical cannabis costs. In addition to this, a consultation will occur on October 25 will review the government pilot study proposal for cannabis research. Hopefully in the very near future Switzerland will be counted amongst the cannabis-friendly countries of Europe.