Switzerland Swiss cannabis activists want to use the momentum of legal cannabis containing CBD in order to achieve the legalisation of the plant’s forbidden variant containing THC. So the new cannabis initiative is underway, 10 years after the No in the last referendum about cannabis. However, it is limping forwards and it desperately needs support!
On the campaign website you can see that over the last nine months 20,800 people have agreed to sign, and have donated around CHF 101,000 to resurrect the cannabis initiative.
Although the text of the initiative was already signed off last spring by the Swiss Federal Chancellery, 100,000 signatures are needed for the initiative to be approved.
The organisers have now postponed the collection of signatures that was due to begin in April, in order to create a broader base for the initiative. Ahead of the referendum, the task is now to bring on board not just the biggest companies in the sector, but also the associations and organisations in the areas of addiction and health research, low-level drug workers (street-work), drug checking and the cannabis-friendly centre-right parties.
“Just a year ago, we were ploughing a lonely furrow with our initiative. But in the last few months, so many public figures have knocked on our door wanting to get involved,”Nino Forrer, spokesperson for the association “Legalize it!” told the Swiss media. “We particularly want to bring the centre-right middle-class politicians on board,” says Forrer.
In order to make the initiative more widely known, and in doing so raise the necessary financial and other resources to mobilise collection campaigns, the Zurich-based association “Legalize It!” together with the “Marry-Jane” shop at Langstrasse 80 in Zurich, began in January to sell CBD buds, with the profits intended going towards the cannabis initiative.
When you buy a “Legalize It!-Greenhouse” or “Legalize It!-Outdoor” the whole of the purchase price goes to the initiative.
At stake is a relatively uncomplicated change in the wording of the law, which uses just a few words to create the basis for a regulated cannabis market:
The Federal Constitution of 18 April 1999 shall be amended as follows:
Art. 105a (new) Cannabis:
- The consumption of active substances and preparations from cannabis as well as their preparation for personal consumption is not a criminal act. Growing plants that allow the production of active substances and compounds of this type for personal consumption is also decriminalised.
- The Confederation shall issue regulations to cover the commercial harvesting and the preparation and also the sale of active substances and compounds from cannabis.
- The supply of active substances and compounds from cannabis to minors except under medical supervision is forbidden.
Art. 131 para.1 subsection f
- The Confederation can collect special consumer taxes on:
- f. active substances and compounds from cannabis, which are not being used for medicinal treatment.
Nino Forrer, Press Spokesperson for “Legalize It!”, hopes that the revenues from sales will provide the necessary financial resources to launch the campaign: “The ban on cannabis is wrong from a social perspective, unfair from a legal perspective and just plain dumb from an economic perspective,” said Forrer to the Limmattaler Zeitung newspaper.
Not so clear-cut
One problem remains: even if it were possible to get the majority of the population of Switzerland behind you, the problem remains that you also need a majority of the Cantons. In Switzerland, a referendum initiative is only successful if, in addition to getting support from a majority of the population, more than half of the Cantons also vote in its favour.
So the vote in the traditionally conservative, small Cantons in the centre and west of Switzerland will be very influential, and could cause the initiative to fail, even if it gets a majority of the public vote.
According to recent surveys, the majority (66%) of the Swiss are in favour of creating a regulated cannabis market, but the number of anti-cannabis Cantons is still greater than the more urban, liberal Cantons.
If the initiative were to fail, there is unlikely to be another one in the foreseeable future, and the chances of regulating the cannabis market would be worse than they are without a lost initiative.
Model projects with good chances
The model projects, which have been under discussion for a long time, have a good chance; cannabis could be sold to adults according to geographic and time-based limits. Although the Federal Health Office (BAG) rejected the proposal from the federal capital in November 2017, it seems that this was not the last word on the subject.
The Health Committee of the National Council (SGK) decided by 13 votes to 6 at the end of January 2018 to create a legal basis for scientific research into the use of cannabis and spoke out in favour of a parliamentary initiative. This initiative would create a legal framework for the requested pilot projects in Bern and other cities to finally obtain a green light from the Ministry of Health.
These pilot projects, on the implementation of which people have been working in Switzerland for many years at multiple levels, would be at risk if a cannabis initiative were to fail. Should that transpire, it would mean not only that nothing is likely to change in the near future, but also that the voting public will have confirmed twice in 10 years that they do not want to change anything. A vote in this direction would kill off the chances of phased liberalisation at a political level and could do more damage than any good the initiative would otherwise have achieved.