Switzerland has announced that doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis as a treatment for patients without needing “exceptional authorization.” The move is part of the country’s effort to make medical marijuana easier and more accessible.
The aphria is a company that has been granted the rights to produce cannabis in Switzerland. They will be able to prescribe it without the need for an exceptional authorization.
In Switzerland, a not-so-quiet revolution is now underway. The nation is preparing for what will very certainly be Europe’s most disruptive recreational experiment.
Meanwhile, a slew of other significant events are taking place. Specifically, the government is going to eliminate the requirement that prescription cannabis physicians seek special authorization before doing so.
The Swiss Federal Body (the seven-member executive council that acts as the country’s collective head of state and federal government) began deliberations on amending the country’s national narcotics act on Wednesday.
Since 1951, all forms of cannabis, including medicinal and recreational, have been prohibited in the nation. Swiss doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis more or less freely and as they see fit if the federal Narcotics Act is amended in this manner. Approximately 3,000 authorizations are now granted each year to treat patients with cancer, neurological disorders, and MS.
As a consequence, cannabis will become “simply” a “restricted narcotic,” as it now is over the DACH border with Germany (DACH is an acronym for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, who share a special trading alliance). The three nations are also culturally similar, beginning with a shared language.
The Unusual Swiss Twist
There is going to be a twist in all of this since it is cannabis, regardless of where the change is taking place.
On the plus side, for the first time, government approval will be granted for the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of medicinal cannabis. Export for commercial purposes will be allowed. The regulations for imports are less clear (although it is highly unlikely anyone will ban imports of the EU-GMP medical kind).
This is hardly groundbreaking, given that Switzerland’s nearest trade partner to the north (Germany) did so four years ago. Indeed, the first cannabis grown in Germany is just now reaching German pharmacies.
Cultivation for personal use is still prohibited in the interim.
And here’s the oddest, if not cynical, twist of all:
Switzerland will also launch a unique leisure experiment in a few months. Pharmacies will be allowed to offer high-THC products to anybody over the age of 21 who has the financial means to pay for them.
The Swiss approach is less cynical than the Dutch (who allowed insurers to stop reimbursing domestic medical cannabis claims almost as soon as Germany changed the law to mandate that public insurers do so back in 2017).
Nonetheless, the experiment is taking place at a very fascinating moment, just over the border. One of the most well-attended panels at the recent ICBC in Berlin was a debate among federal German lawmakers on which way the cannabis legalization winds would blow as a result of the late September election.
Cannabis reform is a contentious issue worldwide, including, if not particularly, Germany, Europe’s biggest (by far) and most important medical cannabis market. It’s a heated topic just about everywhere.
It’s also doubtful that any reformer in Germany would pass up the chance to inform still-skeptical German lawmakers about what the Swiss are doing today.
It’s a lot easier to get about…
The ongoing, harsh reaction of authorities to any sort of cannabis reform throughout the DACH area (which, of course, includes Austria) is one of the biggest bugbears in the room. The recent catastrophe in Munich by Lidl, one of the world’s biggest stores, is an illustration of this.
Indeed, the lack of change and the absurd prosecutions, especially in Germany recently (hemp tea is now a hot topic), are likely to drive at least some reform in Germany. When you add in a general loosening of restrictions in Switzerland, as well as what appears to be a smoother if not more sensible plan for cultivation and manufacture, the Swiss appeared poised to take the lead in Europe, if not the DACH, on all things reform inclined if not minded in both medicine and recreation.
The shift is not only welcome, but also long overdue, according to Dr. Francis Scanlan, CEO of Cloud 9 Switzerland, a Life Sciences business set to launch its own THC Swiss chocolate bar after pioneering the entrance of his product as the first CBD edible to begin sales in Dubai.
“This is a very logical, though progressive, step in response to the majority of stakeholders in Swiss society accepting that cannabis is a genuine medication that actually benefits patients while possibly lowering healthcare expenses and producing tax revenues,” said Scanlan. “What is going here in Switzerland with prescription medicinal cannabis and our new recreational Pilot Program is commendable and should be viewed as a realistic way to regulate a plant that has been vilified for far too long across the world.”