Under a new proposal from Switzerland’s Federal Council (the collective head of state of the nation), medical cannabis will be fully legalized, allowing patients to directly get approval from their doctor. The proposal would “lift the ban on the circulation of medical cannabis in the law on narcotics,” making the “cultivation, processing and trade of medical cannabis” possible within the framework of the control system provided by Swissmedic, the country’s drug regulatory agency.
Reuters reported this week that the Swiss government aims to make it easier for patients to get medical marijuana, proposing on Wednesday to allow prescriptions for cannabis to treat people suffering from cancer or other serious conditions.
The proposal, separate from a Swiss government push to allow some cities to experiment with recreational marijuana, would replace the current system, in which those seeking medical cannabis must apply for an exception from the Federal Health Office to get what is otherwise an illegal drug.
Marijuana is sometimes used to help cancer patients manage chronic pain, to help boost their appetites, and to reduce spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
Switzerland progressive on cannabis
Switzerland has been relatively progressive on cannabis, including the legalization of cannabis with no more than 1% THC. However, the Swiss medical program has been restrictive, forcing patients to get special authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health.
Even with that approval, patients could only get cannabis tinctures and oil, not flower, from a very limited number of dispensaries. Currently, only about 3,000 authorizations have been granted.
In contrast, non-medical cannabis continues to be banned. The cannabis-based treatments that can be prescribed in Switzerland are either medicines authorized by Swissmedic, or master preparations developed in pharmacy, and are usually taken orally.
Demand drove the move
Medical cannabis is used to relieve chronic pain and stimulate the appetite of patients suffering from cancer. It is also used to reduce spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Switzerland cited increased use of medical marijuana in the treatment of a variety of conditions is driving the narrative.
A grace period will run until mid-October to monitor how it is progressing. Elsewhere in the world medical marijuana is booming. Portugal has just released a bill to legalise marijuana-based medicines, following on from Italy, Germany and Canada. Ireland too. This is a massive step forward for the Swiss cannabis community. Watch this space.