Pot smoking to become Swiss ticketing offence
Possession of small amounts of marijuana will become a ticketing offence in Switzerland starting this autumn.
A revision of the country’s drug laws, set to take effect on October 1st, will allow police officers to issue 100-franc ($105) tickets for people caught smoking a joint.
On-the-spot fines will replace a court appearance in cases of cannabis possession involving amounts of 10 grams or less.
The federal government issued a reminder of the planned change on Friday.
It follows amendments to drug laws adopted by the senate and the house of representatives (national council) on September 28th 2012.
If the person ticketed agrees to pay the fine, he or she can avoid appearing in court.
The measure is expected to lighten the load of police and justice officials, while saving money and harmonizing penalties in line with other areas of Swiss law, the government said.
The government noted that the policy would not apply to young users of cannabis under the age of 18.
Criminal proceedings applicable to minors would continue to be carried out in cases of such young people, it said.
An estimated 350,000 to 500,000 people in Switzerland use marijuana at least occasionally, although it remains an illegal drug.
Around 30,000 related cases end up in courts annually, the ATS news agency reported.
But approaches vary radically from one Swiss canton to another, with some cantons not bothering with possession of pot for personal use, while others levy stiff penalties.
In the canton of Fribourg, someone caught with 10 grams of cannabis risks a 50-franc fine, while the same offence in the canton of Ticino could result in a 3,000-franc fine, ATS said.