Fixed penalty for THC use

St. Gallen is not exactly considered a progressive canton, especially against the hemp stores it has cracked down. But in simple cases of THC consumption, one can hope for a relatively mild punishment. This is because the fixed penalty regime is applied here.

Transgressions, handled differently

THC consumption is a violation of the law contravention, comparable to parking tickets. But while parking violators can be fined directly by the police (and find a ticket under the windshield wiper when they return), THC users can only be reported by the police. The punishment, usually a fine, is then pronounced by the police judge (who in other parts of Switzerland is sometimes called governor, district officer, examining magistrate, interrogating magistrate, préfet or municipal judge). Then, the accused has to pay not only the fine, but also the court fees, as well as writing and delivery fees (in other parts of Switzerland these expenses are also called state fee and chancery fee or simply fee and costs). This often doubles the amount of the fine, and besides the police, there are also other offices dealing with the offense.

The CVP idea

After the failed NarcA revision, the CVP suggested that THC users should be punished simply and quickly by fixed penalty. This is the same as parking tickets. So the same as a parking offender. Since both (smoking pot and parking the wrong way) are on the same level of illegality (they are both contravention), this should be feasible. But it needs a special entry in the list of fixed penalties. This cannot be done on a nationwide basis, but must be done by canton, and in some cases even by municipality (if they have their own police force). Thus, the CVP's proposal was also a bit of a boondoggle - because there is definitely no authority in Switzerland that could force all the responsible bodies onto a common course.

St. Gallen begins

On the other hand, this also means that any municipality or canton can start such a new regulation on its own. After all, criminal prosecution is regulated on a cantonal basis in Switzerland - how a canton wants to hunt down and punish its illegal immigrants is up to each canton, even if NarcA is a nationwide law.

The first case

And the other day, a person from the canton of St. Gallen actually phoned and said that he had had to give fifty francs directly to the policeman who had caught him, and that was the end of the case. It had been about four grams of weed and he had smoked a joint. That is why he was caught. At first, I thought it might have been a false police officer or a fine (which would be deducted from the fine that was later imposed). But the person concerned sent me the adjacent receipt and so I started to investigate.

Fining on the spot

And indeed: In the St. Gallen Code of Criminal Procedure, position 7 is listed in the appendix under the heading “Imposing a fine on the spot”. This reads: “Consumption or possession of narcotics for own consumption in simple cases (Art. 19a para. 1) 50.-” To be found for example at: With this, the police officer can fine a caught THC user on the spot, whereby no further fees are incurred and no further authorities are involved. This makes the punishment relatively cheap. (Of course, we still find it completely disproportionate to fine someone for possession and consumption of THC products. But it is already a progress, if one considers that otherwise for the same “contravention” 100, 200 or also 300 francs penalty are imposed).

A discretion remains

It remains unclear exactly what the “simple case” means. Ultimately, the police officer can decide on the spot - maybe the four grams mentioned still go through, but ten grams would be too much. Or if it concerns a few people who have passed on the joint, of course, the “own consumption” is no longer valid and it is simply a matter of passing on or even selling. In such “no longer simple cases” the police officer must, as usual, report the person concerned and an office then decides on the amount of the fine (and of course also on the amount of the fees). By the way, the fixed penalty can also be issued if other illegal narcotics than cannabis products are found. The only condition is that it is a simple case. Unfortunately, at the moment we do not have time to check all 26 cantons for such regulations. Therefore here is an appeal: If you have received such fines, or know of someone who has been fined in this way, we would be very happy to hear from you!

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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