• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Major Swiss cities set to back 'cannabis clubs'

Malcolm Curtis · 14 Mar 2014, 10:50

Published: 14 Mar 2014 10:50 GMT+01:00

Lawmakers from at least five municipal governments are looking at participating in an experiment to regularize the use of marijuana through “user’s associations”.

Bern has become the latest city to look seriously at liberalizing the use of cannabis through regulations, the Berner Zeitung newspaper reported on Thursday.

Zurich, Basel and Lausanne are also interested in joining in the experiment being piloted by the city of Geneva.

A multi-party working group in Geneva in December presented a proposal for “cannabis social clubs” that would have even allowed minors to participate.

But since then the proposal has evolved, the 20 Minutes newspaper reported on Friday.

The groups would be restricted to adults and called “associations of cannabis users”, with the use of “social club” considered too fanciful.

“At first we thought to include minors in the users’ associations but this question proved to be extremely sensitive,” Rolin Wavre, a member of the Liberal party in Geneva told 20 Minutes.

“But we should be clear to exclude them (minors) from the project will not address the problem of marijuana consumption by minors.”

The working group will submit its final proposal to authorities in June but changes to the federal narcotic law would be needed in order for to go ahead.

The Swiss People’s Party in Geneva has staunchly opposed the project, stating that cannabis has become a “hard drug”.

But backers of the proposal say it would reduce the “black market” and illegal street trading of marijuana through strict controls that would allow cannabis to be traced back to certified seeds, the Berner Zeitung reported.

Other elements, such as the level THC, an active ingredient in cannabis, and use of pesticides in cultivation could also be controlled, proponents say.

The use and possession of cannabis remains illegal in Switzerland, although enforcement differs widely depending on the cantons.

However, the federal government moved to liberalize its policies with a law that took effect on October 1st 2013 that makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a ticketing offence.

Story continues below…

The law authorizes police officers to issue 100-franc ($115) tickets for adults found in possession of 10 grans of marijuana or less.

The change aimed to reduce the 30,000 or so pot-related cases that end up clogging Swiss courts annually, given that cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance in Switzerland.

In February, a federal parliamentary committee looking into drug issues said it wanted to reopen the debate on the legalization in the wake of developments in the US, Uruguay and New Zealand.

The US state of Colorado recently liberalized laws permitting stores to sell small quantities of cannabis to individuals, who are legally allowed to possess up to one ounce of pot while travelling, although smoking the drug in public there remains banned.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
London Olympic athletes fail new doping tests
IOC president Thomas Bach announced the news. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/ADP

The Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee reports 23 new doping failures from 2012 Games.

Swiss supermarkets look to scrap free plastic bags
Coop is among the supermarkets considering the idea. Photo: Coop

Voluntary agreement may be the solution after a commission quashes idea of outright ban.

Head-on crash leaves Swiss motorcyclist dead
The accident happened on the way to Les Mosses. File photo: Falk Lademann

A motorcyclist died in a head-on crash with a car on a mountain road in Vaud.

Bern renews funding for controversial arts centre
Bern town hall. File photo: Dennie Jarvis

The Reitschule has been granted a reprieve after authorities in the city agreed a 1.5 million franc grant to keep it going until 2019.

Neighbours’ day: Swiss cities join growing European party
Around 40 towns in Switzerland will celebrate Neighbours' Day. Photo: Tag der Nachbarn

St Gallen becomes the latest Swiss town to take part in European Neighbours’ Day.

Swiss boffins create cannabis e-cigarette
File photo: Marcel van Hoorn/AFP

"Cannavaping" for medical use is safer than a joint and better than a pill, say Lausanne scientists.

Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
The resort of Verbier in the canton of Valais. File photo: The Local

Valais and Vaud launch joint candidacy for the 2026 winter Olympics.

Ticino beaches praised in European report
Bathing spots on Lake Lugano were among those rather excellent. Photo: Roland Gerth/Swiss-image.ch

More than 100 Swiss beaches have been rated as excellent for water quality in a European report.

Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
The new rail tunnel is the longest and deepest in the world. Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard

The longest tunnel in the world will be inaugurated in Switzerland amid great fanfare on June 1st. The Local takes you through it.

Bern pulls plug on lakes after heavy rain forecast
Lake Biel/Bienne is one of the three affected lakes. Photo: Biel/Bienne/Seeland tourism/Swiss-image.ch

Authorities are reducing the water level of three Swiss lakes this week so they can cope with heavy rain to come.

Photo: Swiss Tourism
Features
10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Photo: Alp Transit Gotthard
National
Gotthard base tunnel: what you need to know
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Sport
Swiss cantons team up to vie for winter Olympic games
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Photo: Broad Bean Media
National
Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Business & Money
Pink diamond sold for record-breaking $31m in Geneva
File photo: Candida Performa
Lifestyle
Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
Photo: Cervo
Travel
In pictures: Switzerland’s most welcoming hotels
Photo: Aargau cantonal government
‘Beast of Rupperswil’ was local football coach
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Features
Geneva exhibition marks 200 years of Frankenstein
Photo AFP
National
Swiss basic income campaign sets Guinness world record
Photo: St Gallen police
Society
Police hunt killer of man shot dead in St Gallen street
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Society
Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed
Photo: Zurich Zoo
Culture
Gallery: giant tortoise at Zurich Zoo is mother at 80
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
Swiss farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells
Photo: Esparta Palmer
Health
44-year-old woman refused fertility treatment on insurance
File photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
Society
Jilted admirer shocks woman with tattoo... of her face
File photo: Flickr
Health
Swiss school eyes longer holidays for non-smoking staff
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Swiss basic income vote: what you need to know
 Photo: Heinrich Plum
National
Lidl uses German mountain to promote its Swiss products
4,618
jobs available