Swiss group launches new initiative to legalize cannabis

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Swiss group launches new initiative to legalize cannabis
Photo: Lars Hagberg/AFP

The Swiss public could have another chance to decide if cannabis consumption should be legalized after the group Legalize It launched a popular initiative to that effect last week.


Cannabis is illegal in Switzerland though the law was relaxed in 2013. Instead of facing criminal proceedings, adults caught with ten grams or less of pot can be subjected to a 100-franc spot fine, though that is enforced to varying degrees across the country. 
Quoting figures from the federal statistics office Tages Anzeiger said some 19,000 fines were issued in 2016. While 4,286 were issued in Zurich, Bern only dished out 203. 
Legalize It has long campaigned to legalize the drug but all previous attempts have failed.
This new popular initiative proposes cannabis consumption and production for personal use should be made legal – except for minors – and that its sale should be regulated and taxed by the government, reported the Tages Anzeiger.
That differs from a failed 2008 referendum that aimed to legalize cannabis for everyone including minors, though it stipulated measures should be put in place to protect young people. Neither did the 2008 initiative propose any government tax.
Speaking to the Tages Anzeiger on Friday, Nine Forrer of Legalize It said: “The ban on cannabis is wrong from a social perspective, wrong from a legal point of view and simply stupid from an economic point of view.”
Legalizing the production and consumption of cannabis under government control would dry up the black market, argues the group.
Currently plans are afoot to trial the state-controlled sale of cannabis in so-called ‘cannabis clubs’ in four cities, though the project is still awaiting government approval. 
And the Swiss capital is involved in another project to trial the sale of cannabis in selected pharmacies in the city.
According to estimates, around 500,000 people in Switzerland smoke pot at least occasionally.



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