From its thousand-year-old shamanic use in the plains of the Indian subcontinent to its almost systematic demonization in the late twentieth century, cannabis has been in the news all the time and is undeniably an important cultural object.
It is therefore relevant to look at its legal status and its evolution.
It seems important to provide a brief history of Swiss legislation on the plant before discussing the legal status of CBD cannabis in
Switzerland and elsewhere.
Swiss History of Cannabis Legislation:
In order to get our bearings, we need to start with a little lexicon in order to better understand the modern issues at stake.
The Federal Commission for Addiction Issues explicitly refers to legal cannabis to refer to flowers with a content of less than 1% THC, the plant’s illegal psychoactive agent.
This distinction will be referred to in this article as CBD cannabis (read more: “What is CBD” on the blog naturalpes: https://naturalpes.ch/decouvrez-le-cbd-et-son-utilisation-therapeutique/ published on 09/08/2018 in French only), while cannabidiol is not psychoactive.
The distinction proposed by the commission is a good example of Switzerland’s pragmatic policy, particularly in terms of social progress and public health, but how did we get to this point?
Hemp has been used in Europe since the Middle Ages to make textiles or cosmetics, among other things.
However, the recreational use of the plant has always been a taboo pushed by the church, and it was in 1951 that cannabis was finally considered a narcotic under Swiss criminal law.
The CBD was discovered in the 1940s in the United States, but very strict legislation prevented research from advancing quickly, and the substance only began to be well understood in the 1960s.
The legal vagueness surrounding the substance then saw several shops selling seeds and products for cannabis consumption flourish in Switzerland in the 1990s.
The overall trend continues to be towards law enforcement, with cannabis possession being considered a criminal offence.
The distinction between legal and illegal cannabis will become effective in 2013, when the first e-liquids will be marketed.
This change in the public’s apprehension of the plant also sees a decriminalisation of the possession of cannabis with more than 1% THC up to 10 grams.
In some cantons, the authorities no longer impose fines.
Today it is legal to possess and consume CBD cannabis throughout Switzerland.
Status of Cannabis CBD in Europe :
In order to rule on the legality of CBD cannabis in our European neighbours, we have to recognise two legal regimes, that of the European Union and that of the states that make it up.
The EU advocates legality for plants containing less than 0.2% THC, but the law of the states takes sovereignty over European law, and each state applies it as it sees fit.
This threshold is therefore theoretical, and in Germany, for example, the decriminalization regime is very similar to the Swiss regime and even goes so far as to allow cannabis with a high THC content for medical purposes.
CBD cannabis is legal according to EU regulations, i.e. a maximum of 0.2 per cent THC for the general public.
The counter-example to Germany can be seen in the relaxation of EU regulations with France.
Throughout the green hexagon, cafés and shops selling dried flowers within the legal threshold are this flourishing.
They quickly end up being closed down by the authorities and only CBD oil remains strictly speaking legal.
The European legislation being for France only one way to authorize the culture of industrial hemp.
This case also seems very similar in Italy, where in June 2016 CBD cannabis, locally called “cannabis light”, becomes illegal by decision of
the Italian Supreme Court.
However, this order has not yet been reinforced by the authorities.
In conclusion, CBD cannabis remains perfectly legal in Switzerland, but caution recommends that you inform yourself about local legislation before going abroad with CBD products.
The development of the legality of CBD cannabis in Europe is proceeding well and heralds a bright future for the next decade in the industry at the global level.