Swiss group “Legalize It” is launching another campaign to push cannabis legalization, opening up a fresh opportunity for the public to decide whether or not they approve of Switzerland making it legal to consume and product the drug for personal uses.
This is the second initiative launched in the country within this decade.
It is estimated that about 500,000 people of Switzerland smoke cannabis occasionally.
According to Geneva Tribune, most of these people consume hashish and marijuana.
Cannabis is not legal in Switzerland, but the law saw some relaxation in the year 2013.
Adults using 10 grams or less of cannabis could be fined 100 francs on the spot, but the law was enforced in varying degrees throughout the country.
Tages Anzeiger, a Swiss newspaper, cites federal statistics that say about 19,000 such fines had been levied in 2016, with 4,286 fines levied in Zurich and only 203 of them in Berne.
Possession of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor. Also, it can be seen that enforcement of the fine for production, consumption and possession is different among several cantons of the country.
Legalize It had campaigned earlier for allowing the usage of cannabis, but the previous attempts were not successful.
The previous referendum for legalizing cannabis failed in 2008 because 63 percent of the voters had opposed it.
The latest initiative requests legalization of both consumption and production of the cannabis for personal uses.
Additionally, minors should not be allowed to consume or produce cannabis and sales must be controlled with government taxation, according to Tages Anzeiger.
This advocacy is different from an earlier referendum of 2008, whereby it was proposed that cannabis must be legalized for all, even minors, with measures put in for protecting the minors.
There was also no government tax mentioned in the proposal of 2008.
Unlike the proposal made in 2008, the new proposal maintains that marijuana should remain illegal for all minors.
Benefits of Cannabis Legalization
Nine Forrer from Legalize It stated to Tages Anzeiger that the act of banning cannabis is wrong—socially, legally and economically.
If the consumption and production for personal use is legalized, the government will be able to regulate the drug and obtain taxes on it.
By allowing cannabis to be legally consumed and produced, the government can ensure control over the drug and put an end to the black market, according to the group.
Legalize It also argues that making cannabis illegal leads to increases in crime.
Other benefits are that THC, the main ingredient of cannabis, can be controlled to prevent the spread of dangerous pesticides.
Every year, there are around 30,000 cases connected with cannabis brought to the courts in Switzerland.
But if cannabis becomes legalized, these cases will be removed.
Advocates see this as another argument in favor of the Legalize It campaign.
There are plans to try out legalizationon a small scale, among cannabis clubs in four cities of Switzerland, namely Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich.
The initiative calls for government control of the tests, though the plan hasn’t yet been approved.
Another project in the planning stage is trying out cannabis sale in some pharmacies within the capital.
These trials are more in the form of a scientific test, in order to check out the feasibility of lifting the ban.
Independent Drug Policy
Switzerland is a European country that is not an EU member, so the drug policy is different from surrounding countries.
In fact, cannabis was almost legalized around 20 years ago. It has a higher level of acceptance in the country’s society, as compared to those of other European countries.
In the past three years, seven big cities in the country have applied for pilot projects to allow cannabis.
The purpose is that young people can substitute the heavy cannabis consumption pattern with a conscious and more moderate one.