A change without real improvements

A new proposal to amend the Narcotics Act NarcA is on the table. Much may still change in the course of parliamentary deliberations. We compare the current law with the specific new proposal now under discussion.

What is it about?

This partial revision was started because the revision of NarcA was scuttled by the National Council in summer 2004. The National Council's Commission for Social Security and Health drafted the bill discussed here after its sister commission from the Council of States had given its approval. Heroin distribution is to be anchored. This is particularly important to the politicians, because the temporary heroin distribution will expire at the end of 2009 and all heroin users would be back on the street - untenable conditions would be inevitable. It was always emphasized that the cannabis issue was to be left aside - this was the only reason for the failure of the overall revision. But if you take a closer look at the present text, it becomes clear that it is also about cannabis. However, it is not about decriminalization, not even of consumption. On the contrary, the goal of abstinence is to be anchored for the first time in NarcA and in the very first article. Bad with this partial revision is that the term “hemp herb for narcotic production” is omitted and new hemp plants are generally considered illegal narcotics. This closes the last loophole in the law. On the positive side, THC products will be allowed as medicinal products, but only in a very restrictive way with special permits. An overview of the most interesting points can be found in the graphic on the next page.

What's next?

The committee of the National Council has completed its preliminary work and consultations. On December 14, the bill will go to the National Council. The first question there is whether or not the National Council wants to accept this partial revision at all (the last revision failed precisely because the National Council no longer wanted to know anything about the project). If it does agree, it will have to fight its way through all the paragraphs and also deal with various minority motions. These mostly call for a further tightening of the law or the deletion of the four-pillar policy or the heroin levy. We can look forward to these discussions with great anticipation, since they could not even take place in 2004. The bill then goes to the committee of the Council of States. This is followed by the Council of States - here, too, a decision must be made to accept the bill and amendments can be made to the current text. If the National Council and the Council of States agree (possibly after several rounds of amendments) and the final vote is passed, the definitive text of the law is available. Now the referendum period begins - if someone takes the referendum and collects 50,000 signatures within 100 days, there will be a referendum. If the text is approved by the voters, it will be put into force and the administration can draft the clarifying regulations and put them into force. The procedure will therefore take a few more years.

And where are our concerns?

Of course, this law is not satisfactory. Satisfactory, on the other hand, would be the popular initiative “Pro Jugendschutz gegen Drogenkriminalität” - if its provisions were adopted, a reasonable legal handling of THC products could take place. However, it will not come to an adoption under the given political circumstances. The fears of the population are too great and the clout of the hemp movement is simply too small.

The fears and reservations are huge

But perhaps a counter-proposal to the initiative can be drafted. The Federal Council has refused to take such a step, but the commissions could draft such a text when they discuss the popular initiative (which will probably take place in 2007). But what, if anything, could be suitable for a majority? Such a bill would have to take seriously the fears and aversions of the population: The fear of a stoned youth, the fear of THC tourism from abroad, the disapproval of consumption in public, the contempt towards people who earn their living with THC trade. Despite all these big reservations, it seems to me that there is a majority that just really considers the private consumption of THC products to be a personal, legal matter.

Hope for a counter-proposal with a mini-solution?

A proposal with majority support could look as follows: In principle, the handling of THC products remains prohibited, unless it happens…

- in private (consumption and possession at home)

- by persons of legal age who are resident in Switzerland

- without the presence of minors

- with self-produced weed and hash (no support of the black market)

- on a small scale (e.g. less than 100 grams per year)

- by well-integrated consumers who are not dependent on social welfare and do not cause problems

- without distribution to other persons, except for joint consumption free of charge (with adult persons residing in Switzerland without special problems, etc.).

Of course, this is only a very small “solution”. But such a proposal would be the maximum that I consider to be possible for a majority in view of the prevailing conditions. Now to the concrete overview of the now presented law revision, which does not even contain such a mini-solution!

From old to new

All in all, this partial revision comprises well over 100 pages of text. Almost the entire law is changed: Total revision would be more precise here. But this word probably arouses too much fear. We limit ourselves in the overview below to the articles on THC products and the penal provisions (which apply to all narcotics). The topics we are interested in are highlighted in blue, the current regulations are highlighted in yellow, and the proposed changes are highlighted in red. The deliberations in the parliament can change a lot. With a fast internet connection you can follow the ongoing discussions live on And in the next Legalize it! we will summarize the current developments again. Members are welcome to call or email our secretary with questions about the political process. All documents can be viewed in the office.

From old to new
Topic The provisions in the current law (in the Narcotics Law NarcA, unless otherwise noted). The proposed changes in the partial revision
Prohibited by law are … … Hashish, hemp herb for the production of narcotics. Hashish is always prohibited, but hemp flowers only if they are to be used as a betm. … Narcotics of the effect type cannabis. This relieves the police - they no longer have to prove the intention of obtaining betm in the case of hemp plants or hemp flowers. The criminal prosecution is thus simplified.
Who ultimately defines the list of narcotics? The concrete list of all narcotics is compiled by the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products Swissmedic. The concrete list of all narcotics is prepared by the Federal Department of Home Affairs.
Consumption and acts of preparation for personal use are punishable by … … imprisonment or fine (most often today a fine of 100 to 500 francs is pronounced). … Imprisonment or fine (remains the same)
The gratuitous transfer of a negligible quantity for joint, simultaneous consumption is… … generally unpunished (in fact, however, only to over 16-year-olds, because in the Criminal Code the distribution of substances hazardous to health to under 16-year-olds is punishable by imprisonment or monetary penalty ). … unpunished if given to over 18 year olds. If given to under 18s, there is a custodial sentence and monetary penalty with up to 20 years in prison.
Production, transfer, sale, storage, etc. (not for personal use) is considered… … misdemeanor (and is punishable by up to three years in prison) … felony (and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison)
Production, transfer, sale, storage, etc., if gang-related or commercial, is considered … … serious case (and is punishable by at least one year in prison). … serious case (and is punishable by at least one year in prison, so remains the same).
When sales are made in or around a training facility, it is considered … … misdemeanor (no special penalty aggravation) … serious case (at least one year in prison)
Cannabis as medicine is (consumption and dispensing) … … prohibited (except for approved research projects) … restrictively allowed (special exception permits are possible)
The goal of the law is … (no specific target definition) … the abstinence
The four-pillar policy will … … not mentioned at all (strictly speaking, the four-pillar policy already practiced today is thus illegal). … comprehensively anchored (prevention, therapy and reintegration, harm reduction and survival assistance, control and repression).
Heroin prescription is … … possible until 2009 … unlimited enshrined in law
Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

Share page: facebook X (Twitter)

Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

This overview as PDF