Switzerland came one step closer to adult-use cannabis legalization after lawmakers in the Health Commission of Switzerland’s National Council, the country’s lower legislative body, voted 13-11 on Friday in favor of a plan that would legalize cannabis access for adults, according to a Zürichsee-Zeitung report.
The parliamentary initiative was proposed by National Council Member Heinz Siegenthaler and seeks to expand the country’s current adult-use cannabis pilot program — which was approved last September and legalized access for some 5,000 registered study participants — to include all adults. Under that program, distributed cannabis must be organic and produced in Switzerland; additionally, THC content is capped at 20% for the pilot program’s cannabis products and the products must come in child-resistant packaging with appropriate safety warnings and accurate cannabinoid content displayed on the label.
When presenting his proposal, Siegenthaler argued that federal cannabis prohibition has clearly failed because the unregulated marketplace is flourishing and consumption rates are at an all-time high. According to estimates, some 500,000 Swiss regularly consume cannabis products — or about 6% of the country’s eight million residents.
If the proposal is fully approved by the National Council, it would move next to the Council of States, the upper body of Switzerland’s Federal Assembly.
Switzerland decriminalized minor cannabis possession (up to 10 grams) in 2012 although possession is still penalized by a flat civil fine of 100 Swiss francs. Cannabis containing just 1% or less THC, however, has been legal for manufacturing and distribution in Switzerland since 2011.