The Swiss government has joined other European countries in fully legalizing medical cannabis for domestic use, and export.
Switzerland is moving forward on its own path to full legalization. With a federal recreational trial pending, the country has now fully and formally legalized medical cannabis use. This has been achieved by amending the Swiss Narcotics Act to change the status of cannabis.
As a result, as of August 1, Swiss patients can obtain medical cannabis via a simple prescription from a regular doctor. Up until now, patients had to obtain special permission from the Federal Office of Public Health. The government has justified this new development by stating that the demand for authorizations has created a huge administrative burden and slowed down medical treatment.
There are currently about 3,000 authorizations for medical cannabis use in Switzerland, issued for patients suffering from cancer, neurological conditions, and MS. The authorization for exceptional use was authorized in 2019. Beyond this, there are an untold number of patients who have also obtained cannabis from the illegal market.
The Transition to Cannabis Normalization
The University of Geneva published a study in June that estimated that the economic impact of legalization in Switzerland would generate an estimated $1 billion in revenue and create about 4,400 full-time jobs. An earlier study published two years ago estimated that the value of the national cannabis market would be about half that.
Obviously, both figures are just guestimates. There is really no way to understand both recreational and medical demand until both are fully normalized.
The Impact on European Legalization
Switzerland is located in Europe but is not a member of the EU. Regardless, the steady progression here towards a normalized market has clearly helped drive the conversation elsewhere. This starts with Germany. However, it also includes countries like Malta, Luxembourg, and Portugal on the recreational side of the debate, and beyond this, Spain, Greece, Italy, and the Czech Republic on the purely medical side.
The path to legalization in Switzerland is also being achieved through a slow normalization of medical use while beginning a limited trial in key cities later this year.
As a result, it is obvious that the Swiss example will be studied and considered as other countries begin to make moves in this direction. One of the more interesting aspects of the same is that Switzerland has also effectively lifted some kinds of regulation that are applied to the industry elsewhere – including GMP and Novel Food. How this will work externally is another question as Swiss products are exported across international borders.
Regardless, the small steps Switzerland is making now will certainly forward the entire debate, both here, and in their immediate surroundings. The future is increasingly now.
This article first appeared on Internationalcbc.com and is syndicated here with special permission.