Top Swiss health commission call for 'legalisation' of cannabis

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Top Swiss health commission call for 'legalisation' of cannabis
Consumption of cannabis with a THC content of more than one percent is illegal in Switzerland. File photo: AFP

A top Swiss health commission said on Tuesday that the country's drug laws should be changed to decriminalize cannabis use and regulate the market for the substance in Switzerland.


The recommendations are included in the Cannabis Update 2019 produced by the Swiss National Commission for Addiction Issues, an independent advisory body made up of experts which reports to the government.

The commission makes it clear prohibition has failed, with rates of cannabis use steady in Switzerland despite laws designed to stop people using the drug.

Read also: Thousands of Swiss people could get 'cannabis licence'

Around 200,000 people regularly use cannabis in Switzerland, according to government estimates, while one percent of the Swiss population admit to using cannabis regularly (at least 20 days a month).

At the same time, the ban on cannabis has given rise to a criminal black market, while prohibition means there are no guarantees as to the quality or safety of street cannabis.

The report, which looks at the latest science on the health impacts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), concludes that decriminalizing cannabis use and regulating the market are key to protecting the health of the Swiss population, and especially young people.

In its report, the addiction commission paints a generally negative picture of current cannabis legislation in Switzerland.

Currently, consumption of cannabis containing up to one percent THC is legal. Anything stronger is illegal. However, since 2013, adults caught with ten grams or less of the drug can face a 100-franc fine instead of criminal proceedings.

But the health commission says the 2013 changes are universally applied. It notes that cannabis laws are applied very strictly in some cantons while other cantons are far more lenient.

In addition, the laws are confusing and have given rise to "absurd situations" where possession of 10 grams of cannabis goes unpunished but people are fined for smoking a joint, the commission notes.

Read also: Zurich pharmacies want to sell medicinal and recreational cannabis


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