By LeeWEpstein

March 19, 2020

A parliamentary motion calling for a change in Swiss law to allow the production of cannabis for internal medical use and export was passed last week. According to our information, the Swiss Federal Council has already made progress on the bill, which was due to be voted on during the current parliamentary session but has been put on hold due to the coronavirus.

The Bill

The bill aims to remove the ban on cannabis exports but also to facilitate access to medical cannabis for Swiss patients. Only 3,000 patients currently have access to legal medical cannabis in the Confederation, a fraction of those who use cannabis to relieve their illnesses. Cannabis prescriptions are issued by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the products are expensive, several hundred Swiss francs a month. It is estimated that about 110,000 patients obtain cannabis illegally to relieve their disease.

In the future, general practitioners could prescribe cannabis directly, without going through the FOPH . The law could come into effect as early as mid-2021, without any indication of the consequences of the coronavirus on the legislative continuation of the bill.

Cannabis regulations

Currently, the cultivation of cannabis with +1% THC is subject to exceptional authorizations for limited medical application, scientific research and drug development. The cultivation of hemp with -1% THC is widely permitted. The production is consumed locally or exported to border countries such as Italy or France.

Concerning cannabis, the country has been trying for several years to set up a pilot project for the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults. Last December, the National Council voted in favor of the project. In February, one of the Parliament’s committees went in the same direction. The project still has to pass the barrier of the Council of States before it can go ahead.

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