Could medical cannabis be the next cash cow for Swiss farmers?
Swiss politicians are calling for Switzerland to cash on in a lucrative export market for medical cannabis.
The use of cannabis for medical purposes became legal in Switzerland in 2011 and plenty of other countries have joined the bandwagon since then, including Germany last year.
But production of the drug remains a thorny issue in Switzerland after the health department recently refused to green-light growing of medical cannabis for export.
Now politicians across the political divided are ganging together to get the Swiss government to approve this form of production, Swiss website Nau reports.
Some 50 politicians headed up by Christa Markwalder of the centrist Free Democratic Party are calling on the executive to either allow the growing of medical cannabis or change the law if the current legal framework is not up to the task.
Markwalder says the market of medical cannabis is booming and worth up to $100 billion a year. Swiss farmers should be allowed to get a piece of this pie, she argues.
A cash cow
She said farmers could realistically expect to earn 10,000 francs per are (one percent of hectare) with the crop, adding that the necessary know-how was already in place.
But the politician from Bern also said time was running short if Switzerland didn’t “want to miss out".
The Swiss and cannabis
According to estimates, around 500,000 people in Switzerland use marijuana at least occasionally.
Though its use is technically illegal, fines differ from canton to canton and some places are more likely to turn a blind eye than others.
At the same time, there has also been a boom in the sale of legal cannabis, or cannabis containing up to one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient that gets recreational users high. This one-percent level is far higher than that allowed in other European countries but still not enough to get you high.
Legal cannabis producer KannaSwiss has seen strong sales of a product low in THC but high in CBD – considered and anti-inflammatory that has numerous potential therapeutic benefits, such as for panic attacks or as pain relief.
"It really calms the nervous system, but without any psychoactive effects," KannaSwiss co-founder Corso Serra di Cassano told news agency AFP.