Swiss patients can legally consume cannabis with a prescription beginning next week, Swiss government officials announced. The move could mean more money, more jobs and eventually, legal marijuana for recreational use.
Beginning August 1, patients can legally obtain and consume medical cannabis via a doctor’s prescription under a new amendment to the Swiss Narcotics Act.
Under previous legislation, medical cannabis was legal for treating patients with cancer and neurological disorders, but obtaining it was very difficult. The old system involved providers making their case with the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) through a lengthy and paper-heavy process.
The next big thing in health?
The allure of CBD is, in part, because it is a safer choice than taking opiates, according to Harvard research. CBD is not addictive and cannot be overdosed. CBD can even be used in place of pain relievers such as Advil, which a large population cannot use because of stomach ulcers, kidney problems and other gastrointestinal issues. Its benefits range from curing insomnia to treating life-threatening conditions such as epilepsy.
Meanwhile, medical marijuana appears to help treat conditions where chronic pain is the main symptom, such as endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and fibromyalgia. Studies show that it relieves symptoms of multiple sclerosis and lessens tremors in Parkinson’s patients, while most opiates available to these patients are highly sedating. Patients say small doses of marijuana allow them to resume their daily activities without feeling groggy, according to Harvard research.
The most recent studies into CBD’s medical benefits may shock you: CBD lessens the severity of COVID-19 infections and may even prevent the virus’s spread, according to a University of Chicago study in the journal Science Advances. While smoking a marijuana joint will not do much, regularly taking the right amount of pharmaceutical-grade CBD will help protect you from contracting COVID-19 and if you do contract COVID-19, CBD will help block its replication in lung cells and reverse many of its effects.
CBD? THC? What’s the current status for recreational use
Today, cannabis containing more than 1% THC is classified as an illegal drug in Switzerland and punishable by up to three years of imprisonment and/or a fine. However, products containing 0.99% THC or less are sold in nearly every convenience store. C’Ice Swiss Cannabis Ice Tea is a fairly popular beverage found in most vending machines at train stations.
In 2021, Switzerland announced its intention to legalize cannabis for all uses by allowing residents to produce, cultivate, trade, and consume it. The move was meant to undermine the black market for recreational cannabis by regulating it with quality controls, taxes and rules around advertising to minors.
Although it will have to be approved by both the Swiss parliament and the Council of States before the law is passed, Switzerland is already moving in that direction.
Studies looking at its recreational effects are being launched this summer in Zürich, Basel, Geneva and other Swiss cities at special “cannabis social clubs.” At these clubs, volunteers will consume marijuana and their effects will be studied by researchers from hospitals, pharmacies and the government.
To ensure products are safe, local manufacturers will have to obtain a special permit from the Federal Office of Public Health to produce products with different THC and CBD content.
The economic effect
The new law also allows for the export of medical cannabis for commercial sales, although companies must first obtain authorization from Swissmedic, a government body that surveils Swiss medicines and medical devices.
Legalizing medical marijuana could generate an annual turnover of nearly 1 billion chf and create about 4,400 full-time jobs, according to a University of Geneva study published last month.
By legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, the Swiss government is also seeking to regulate the quality of the product and undermine the marijuana black market – something patients have been using for years, officials say.
The latest move could be just another step closer to total legalization of marijuana in the country, advocates say.
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