A Swiss government commission has requested that cannabis is decriminalized and that the market is regulated in the Alpine country.
De Federal Commission for Addiction Problems said on Tuesday that cannabis use in Switzerland has not changed substantially in the last ten years. Despite the popularity, the percentage of problem users is low, it said.
The risks of cannabis are mainly linked to high amounts of THC [active ingredient], early use in teenagers, long-term use, mixing cannabis and tobacco, and when used by people with pre-existing mental health problems.
The committee recommends Switzerland to legalize and regulate the market while protecting the health of the population, in particular young people.
It added that there should be certain controls in the market. This would also aid scientific research and access to cannabinoids for medical purposes.
Still banned in Switzerland
Growing, consuming and trading cannabis are all prohibited in Switzerland. But anyone over the age of 18 who is in possession of up to ten grams of cannabis will be fined CHF 110 (€ 90) and it will not be put on their criminal record.
Approximately 200.000 people in Switzerland use illegal cannabis, the government estimates, despite its criminalization.
Consumption is much more common among men, teenagers and young adults. Most are occasional users, with approximately 1% of the adult population allowing frequent use for more than 20 days per month.
Meanwhile, the government is proposing limited pilot projects where up to 5.000 people legally smoke cannabis, which can lead to legislative changes banning cannabis dating from 1951. The plan was made public until the middle of the year.
The government also plans to make it easier for people to access medical marijuana, but that would be part of a separate process.
Switzerland already offers cannabis products of less than 1% THC. It began in July last year with exploring new ways to regulate more powerful marijuana, after the University of Bern was blocked by a scientific investigation into the existing law.
Several states in the US have eased restrictions on marijuana and see an opportunity to save money on law enforcement and benefit from taxing the drug. Portugal and the Czech Republic have decriminalized cannabis in Europe and legalization is being discussed in Luxembourg.
Read the full article on SwissInfo (EN, source)
Also view this background story on the development of cannabis in Switzerland