Medical cannabis could soon be legal in Switzerland

Medical cannabis could soon be legal in Switzerland
Cannabis has been an illegal drug in Switzerland until now. Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP
An amendment to the Narcotic Drugs Act proposed by the Federal Council was widely approved this week during the parliamentary consultation procedure.

This means that Swiss doctors would be able to prescribe cannabis, an illegal drug until now, to help their patients relieve the pain of cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other serious illnesses.

All of Switzerland's major parties, as well as the Swiss Federation of Physicians, have supported the measure.

Until now, only one cannabis-containing medication, a mouth spray used for multiple sclerosis patients, could be prescribed. Patients who needed other medical cannabis drugs had to obtain special permission from the Federal Office of Public Health. Last year, approximately 3,000 such authorizations were issued.

The Swiss medical cannabis association (Medcan) is also pleased with this new development, saying that people who needed cannabis for medical reasons had faced an “impossible situation” for decades.

The government said the next step would be to determine how health insurance companies should pay for this medication.

With this new measure, Switzerland joins other European nations currently developing their medicinal cannabis programmes.

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