Cannabis in Switzerland

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Cannabis in Switzerland that contains more than 1,0 % of THC is classified as an illegal drug in Switzerland.[1] Thus, according to the Federal Law on Drugs, production, culture, use and possession of cannabis are prohibited, and considered as criminal infringements.[2] These infringements are punishable by three years of imprisonment, or by a fine.

Since 28 September 2012, the possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis is no longer a criminal infringement, but is still punished by a 100 Swiss francs flat fine.[3] Professional cannabis trade, as well as the possession of a quantity of cannabis that can affect the health of a large number of people (4 kg of hashish, according to the Federal Court[4]), are punished by one to three years of imprisonment, that can be cumulated with a fine.[2]

The enforcement of the prohibition on cannabis is spotty, because around 500,000 Swiss people are believed to use cannabis regularly or occasionally. In a health poll conducted in 1997, 7% of people aged 15 to 39 stated that they were currently consuming cannabis.[5] Overall, enforcement varies substantially depending on the canton.[6]

On 5 October 2012, the Federal Court invalidated the Latin Concordat on hemp culture and trading, that came into force on 1 January 2012, which allowed private citizens in the cantons of Geneva, Freiburg, Valais, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Bâle-Town and Ticino to grow up to 4 hemp plants (containing less than 1% of THC),[7] for violating the Federal Law on drugs.


The penalties imposed in practice also vary among cantons to a certain degree. The 2007 penalty guidelines adopted by the Bernese Judges' Association provide as follows:[8]

Infraction Penalty
Possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis 100 CHF flat fine
Consumption of soft drugs in normal cases (first infraction, or minor quantity, or brief period of consumption) Fine of CHF 100 or more, depending on the accused's financial circumstances.
Consumption of soft drugs, repeated infractions Increasing fine or monetary penalty, depending on the severity of the infraction and the accused's financial circumstances.
Trade in soft drugs, up to 100 g Monetary penalty of 1–5 daily rates. The daily rate is set by the court and usually amounts to roughly one thirtieth of the accused's monthly income.[9]
Trade in soft drugs, 100 g to 1 kg Monetary penalty of 5–30 daily rates.
Trade in soft drugs, 1 kg or more Monetary penalty of more than 30 daily rates.
Possession of more than 4 kg One to three years of imprisonment[2][4]

An attempt to decriminalize possession and consumption of cannabis failed narrowly in Parliament in 2004.[10] As a reaction, a popular initiative ("Eidgenössische Volksinitiative für eine vernünftige Hanf-Politik mit wirksamem Jugendschutz") to amend the constitution to decriminalize cannabis was introduced 2004.[11] Results from the national referendum in November 2008 showed only 36.7% of those voting supported decriminalising cannabis.[11][12]


  1. ^ See the Interior Department Edict on Drugs of the 05.30.2011
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Cf. the Federal Court judgement ATF 109 IV 143
  5. ^ See the message to Parliament accompanying the government's decriminalization proposal; Federal Official Journal (BBl/FO) 2001 3715, p. 3719/21
  6. ^ Message to Parliament, op.cit., at 3733.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Verband Bernischer Richter und Richterinnen (VBR) / Association des juges bernois (AJB) (valid as of 1 January 2007). Richtlinien für die Strafzumessung (in German) (2 / 2006 ed.). p. 27.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Annex to the Guidelines, op.cit., p. 3.
  10. ^ See documentation available under docket no. 01.024 on the Parliament website.
  11. ^ a b Eidgenössische Volksinitiative 'für eine vernünftige Hanf-Politik mit wirksamem Jugendschutz', – Swiss government, for results see: "Abstimmung Nr. 538". Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  12. ^ "Swiss approve prescription heroin". BBC News Online. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2008.