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New initiative launched to legalise cannabis in Switzerland

New initiative launched to legalise cannabis in Switzerland

A new popular initiative has been launched that seeks to legalise cannabis in Switzerland. Supporters of the new referendum have argued that public opinion has changed dramatically since the alpine nation last voted on the issue.

New attempt to legalise cannabis in Switzerland

In a statement, the Federal Chancellery confirmed that a new popular referendum has been launched which seeks to legalise cannabis in Switzerland. The referendum committee, created by individual Swiss citizens, not political parties, now has until October 30, 2025, to gain 100.000 signatures to make the proposal into a referendum.

Currently, barring medical use and as part of the several cannabis pilot trials taking place in cities like Basel and Zurich, cannabis is illegal in Switzerland and has been since 1951. Any cannabis product that contains more than 1 percent THC, the active component in the drug, is not allowed. However, minor possession of cannabis was decriminalised to a fine in 2012, and many kiosks and stores in the alpine nation sell cannabis products that contain less than 1 percent THC.

Nevertheless, an official health survey from the Swiss government found that as of 2022, more than a third of people over 15 years old have tried cannabis at least once. As of 2017, more than 225.000 people across Swiss cities and cantons smoke cannabis regularly.

What is included in the new cannabis legalisation referendum?

Titled “Legalising cannabis: an opportunity for the economy, health and equality”, the new proposal takes inspiration from the recent legalisation of cannabis in Germany. Under the plans, private citizens would be able to keep up to 50 cannabis plants at once without facing a visit from the police, while those who keep over 50 plants could seek special authorisation to do so. People would also be able to hold three kilos of cannabis at home.

The cultivation and sale of the drug would also be permitted under strict quality and safety standards, while when it comes to driving, the limit would be set at five grams of cannabis per day. Finally, the sale of cannabis will be taxed by the government, with the majority of the proceeds going towards drug awareness campaigning.

What are the chances of cannabis being legalised in Switzerland?

The latest campaign reflects a continuing liberalisation of cannabis laws in Switzerland, with the Federal Council allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis for medical purposes without authorisation in 2022. Supporters of the new referendum argue that public opinion has swayed in cannabis’ favour since the last major plan to legalise the drug was defeated with 63,25 percent of the vote in November 2008.

What’s more, there are signs to suggest that the needle has tipped far enough for the vote to pass. According to an official government survey from 2021, 36 percent of the Swiss population is heavily in favour of cannabis legalisation, while 30 percent are likely to vote yes. This compares to 28 percent who are likely or definitely against the policy.

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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