Based on what historians know about cannabis cultivation in ancient times, it is believed that people have been producing hemp in Switzerland for tens of thousands of years. It is impossible to say for certain, as the ancient hemp fibres discovered were similar in appearance to nettle and flax.
The key difference is the psychoactive effect. The Swiss authorities only recognise the health benefits of CBD (which is not psychoactive, contrary to THC) and that it can “help people to relax and relieves pain and muscle cramp”.
The Swiss law is lenient when it comes to cannabis cultivation. Industrial hemp cultivation was legalised in 1995 but is subject to legislation (regarding levels of THC).
Doctors must apply to the BAG for permission to issue prescriptions. Cultivation for medicinal purposes is also legal, provided the facility in question has a BAG.
However, the ambiguous wording of the legislation opened a loophole for cultivators of drug cannabis—it stated that all cannabis plants, even hemp, contain THC. In doing so, it made it possible for cannabis cultivators to argue if subject to arrest that their crops were hemp and intended only for non-drug purposes, even if they contained significant cannabinoid concentrations.
Swiss attitudes to cannabis are relatively liberal. This can be seen in the presence of CBD products in high street shops, and the growing popularity of cannabis for medicinal use. In fact, cannabis cultivation contributes significantly to the Swiss economy – something that the government acknowledges.
In order to sell cannabis products legally, there are certain regulations that must be adhered to. CBD is exempt from the Narcotics Act, as it does not product a ‘high’. However, the government emphasises that this does not mean it can be sold arbitrarily.
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