Switzerland is known for a few things, staying out of world wars, chocolate, and trains that arrive on time. But did you know that this landlocked European nation is also crazy for CBD? They recently decriminalized small-scale cannabis possession, but still treat cultivation, sale, and use as a crime. So things are loosening up in terms of cannabis culture. And a change in their drug laws allows for the full-scale cultivation of cannabis with a THC percentage lower than 1 percent. So, as a result, a huge market for CBD cannabis has sprung up. CBD not being illegal and therapeutic offers the Swiss a ‘glass of wine’ like experience that both the rich and the working class can partake in.
It’s said that the police do not really care too much for simple cannabis possession, and people might as well buy the regular high THC varieties of cannabis from the black market, but the over the counter high CBD strains are really catching on.
Cannabis that contains more than 1 percent THC is classified as an illegal drug in Switzerland. As a result, the Federal Law on Drugs stipulates that the production, culture, use, and possession of cannabis are all prohibited and considered criminal infringements. All are punishable by up to three years of imprisonment and or a fine. However, as they have been re-organizing their laws, possession of fewer than 10 grams of cannabis is no longer a criminal infringement but is still punished by a 100 swiss francs flat fine. Cities are now looking to set up cannabis clubs like in other European nations. These clubs will have 2,000 members and will be the subject of study for a four year period as the this will operate as a trial for the rest of the country.
The Swiss, however, use a fair amount of cannabis. In a country whose population totals 8 million, roughly 500,000 are cannabis users. So there exists both a flourishing black market and a new legal one for CBD strains.
These new CBD strains are known as C-Pure and are available in head shops across the country. Funnily enough, this causes a lot of problems for the police. As it is next to impossible for them to distinguish between legal C-Pure and cannabis with high levels of THC. Most often they will just confiscate it and let the person go because the only way to tell the THC content is with an expensive test that they don’t have time for. There have even been instances of entire head shops being raided for suspected high THC strains and the result is that the police have to give the cannabis back after it passes the test.
Evidently, this is irritating to the police, but bystanders lament the process as well, leading one expert to comment on the fact that they should focus on more important things, such as littering.
But the market continues to plow forward. Twenty-four Swiss francs, worth roughly the same amount in American dollars, can get you 10 grams of 7.2 percent CBD, 0.4 percent THC flower.
The Swiss might eventually have access to full strength THC cannabis, but things are progressing slowly. Since the proposal to do trial runs in a few cities with cannabis clubs, little has happened on the legislative front.
KannaSwiss is a wholesaler that deals in this high CBD, low THC cannabis, supplies shops with organically-grown cannabis to smoke or take orally, has managed to quadruple its staff to 20 since last year. The company was founded by two scions of aristocratic families. They compare the high from low potency cannabis to drinking a couple glasses of wine.
The Swiss were among the first to make recreational low-potency cannabis fully legal and tax it. They have even managed to produce their own strains. The Fedora strain, cultivated by northern Swiss grower Bio Can is advertised at 7.2 percent CBD and just 0.04 percent THC, which reportedly allows the buds to adhere to both the Swiss Narcotics Act as well as existing food laws. The product contains all the active ingredients of cannabis, including the calming effect of the cannabinoid CBD, without being intoxicating. The problem is that this product is indistinguishable from other cannabis products with high THC.
So CBD cannabis stores are continuing to crop up across Switzerland, from Geneva to St Gallen. Estimates say there are at least ten in Zurich alone, not including smaller kiosks that also sell the product. Indoor growers need permits from the health authorities, but retail sellers are not required to have any special permits.
It’s plain to see that Switzerland is in the midst of a CBD cannabis boom, but people expect things to stabilize soon. With so many producers in the market, estimates are said to be worth CHF 200 million. When the market kicked off, the price was set at approximately 6,000 francs per kilo, and now its a roughly 4,000, and is subject to a 25 percent tax.
If you are travelling Switzerland in the near future, it might be worth it to check out their C-Pure strains and see what all the buzz is about.