The Legal Situation of Cannabis in Switzerland

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If you aren’t quite sure whether or not cannabis is legal in Switzerland or not, you aren’t the only one. Apparently, even the swiss police called for more clarity.

With this article, Strain Insider aims to shine a light on the legal situation of cannabis in Switzerland and to bring some clarity for our readers. Let’s dive right in.

Related: The Legal Situation of Hemp, Marijuana and CBD in the EU in 2019


Is cannabis legal in Switzerland?

The answer to this question is also the source of the confusion that is surrounding it. Yes, and no. Historically, cannabis has been illegal in Switzerland since 1951. However, it really depends on what kind of cannabis we are talking about.

Generally speaking, there are two types of marijuana: Cannabis with a high amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive compound that is responsible for the high that commonly gets associated with cannabis, and cannabis with a high amount of cannabidiol (CBD).

The problem is that these different types of marijuana look and smell exactly the same, of course, different strains still have different properties, so the only way to tell them apart is a laboratory test. On top of that, there is also medicinal cannabis.


Recreational marijuana

While it is illegal to consume, produce, possess or sell cannabis flowers or cannabis products that contain more than 1.0% of THC in Switzerland, it is not the plant itself that is illegal, it is the cannabinoid THC.

However, since October 2013, having up to 10 grams of THC containing marijuana for consumption purposes is not considered an offense. The consumption of marijuana, on the other hand, is still illegal and you can be charged with a CHF 100 fine if you are over the age of 18 and a police officer sees you doing this. In addition to this, your cannabis will be confiscated.

In extreme cases, for example, if you are a repeat offender or are caught with a big amount of illegal cannabis, you could also face a one to three-year custodial sentence. If you are under the age of 18, you will be dealt with under the applicable juvenile criminal laws.

CBD cannabis flowers

Luckily, THC is only one of the many cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. Another cannabinoid, which is very popular at the moment, is CBD, and CBD containing flowers are completely legal as long as they have less than 1.0% of THC.

CBD doesn’t produce a high and it has many use cases as well as upsides, while not having any downsides, which is why it is so popular. Because CBD flowers got so popular in Switzerland and are used as a tobacco substitute, the Swiss government introduced a tobacco tax on CBD flowers.

The Federal Administrative Court set the tax rate for CBD cannabis flowers at CHF 38 per kilogram and 25 percent of the retail price, with a minimum of CHF 80 per kilogram, which is the same as that of fine-cut tobacco.


Exactly like CBD flowers, products such as CBD creams, oils, tinctures and so on are completely legal as long as they have less than 1.0% of THC.

Compared to other European countries, this is pretty lenient. Other European countries have thresholds ranging from 0.05% to 0.3%.

There is no law against CBD-enriched food but foodstuffs that haven’t been used for human consumption to a significant degree prior to the 15th of May 1997, either in a member state of the EU or in Switzerland, must be authorized by the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) or the European Commission.

Related: The Effects of CBD on the Human Body

Furthermore, CBD-enriched foodstuffs are classed as novel foods and, thus, require authorization by the FSVO.

Medical marijuana

Since July 2011, every Swiss doctor can prescribe medical cannabis flowers, that is, cannabis with a THC content of more than 1.0%, to patients who have an exceptional license granted to them by the Federal Office of Public Health.

Additionally, doctors can prescribe magistral formulas that are based on THC containing marijuana, and, since the FDA approved the CBD mono-preparation Epidiolex® on the 28th of June 2018, doctors can also use CBD in magistral formulas.

Although cannabis can be used in medicine, there is only one approved product on the market right now.

A study that was published on the 10th of July 2017 found that, from 2013 to 2014, the number of people who got an exceptional license for cannabinoid treatment increased substantially. Considering that roughly 91% of the patients paid out of their own pocket for the treatment, this indicates that there is a big interest for medicinal cannabis.

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp can be used for a variety of purposes, such as clothing, food, beauty or fabric production.

Just as with everything else, industrial hemp is legal, as long as it doesn’t have a THC content of more than 1.0%. You can even grow your own industrial hemp.

Related: Hemp Use-Cases: Unlimited?


The bottom line

To give you a final overview of the current laws and expectations, here is a summary of the different legal perspectives.


Recreational marijuana

Current status: Illegal

Trend: Strict policies are decreasing (you will only get a CHF 100 fine if you are caught with less than 10 grams)


CBD cannabis flowers

Current status: Legal as long as they contain less than 1.0% of THC

Trend: Policies are expected to become more strict



Current status: Legal as long as the THC content is less than 1.0%

Trend: Policies are expected to become more strict


Medical marijuana

Current status: Legal but requires an exceptional license

Trend: Authorities are more and more open towards medical cannabis and the population seems to have a need for it


Industrial hemp

Current status: Legal as long as the THC content is less than 1.0%

Trend: No clear trend at the moment


Recent Developments

Several cantons (states) of Switzerland have been trying to introduce cannabis in a pilot project. With the beginning of 2020, the canton of St. Gallen eventually took the next step to start a pilot project and the government is currently working on a way to implement legal cannabis into the Narcotics Act.


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