The hemp seed prosecutions in new dimensions

High case numbers since spring 2015

A preliminary remark: The hemp seed prosecutions are still going on! Even though there was a decrease in the number of cases in the years after 2015, it must be clearly seen that there was a massive increase in the number of cases again in 2018 - and this topic was also strongly represented in our legal consultations in 2021. The approach of the authorities is essentially the same as before. So it is still an extremely bad idea today to order hemp seeds abroad!

At times in the spring of 2015, I had five such cases per day: one house search because of a hemp seed order or one summons because of a hemp seed order…. Sure, police summonses because of discovered hemp seed packets have occurred from time to time. But never in such a mass. It is not yet clear what exactly has been changed at customs. Perhaps they have a scanner in use that continuously filters out all similar packages. Or permanently present police officers on site. In any case, the previous one-day large-scale checks in the distribution centers of the Post cannot explain the quantity.

Either summons...

Normally there was/is a police summons, if an envelope with hemp seeds gets stuck at customs. The police then investigates according to 19a, suspicion of consumption/preparation acts. Then it depends on what is admitted in the statement or can be proven otherwise.

However, from 2014 onwards, more and more cases came to light in which ordering 20, 30 or 50 hemp seeds led to a house search (in May 2015, we even became aware of a case in which ordering just 10 hemp seeds was enough for a house search ). Since the persons concerned had no previous convictions, the procedure seemed inexplicable. Because in case of suspicion of consumption there are actually no house searches (but just a police summons). The house searches were then also carried out on suspicion of trafficking. But how does someone conclude from a few hemp seeds that hemp is being trafficked?

Here is the solution to the riddle: Some very creative people in the police department fill out excel sheets in which they do some embarrassing calculations. Hair-raising, but they really call it a “forensic report”. They just assume that every seeds germinates and grows, that every seeds results in a female plant and a yield of 30 or 50 grams, that everyone wants to grow seeds professionally under artificial light - and then that the result, because it is too much, could never be consumed alone, and thus the suspicion of trafficking is given and a house search is necessary. Absurd, but reality.

cannatrade.ch


Examples of procedures

The seeds are secured

Report hemp seeds seizureFreezing list
Seeds seizure report, page 1 Seeds Seizure Report, page 2 Freezing list


Here a policeman lets creativity prevail

“Forensic” report
"Forensic" report, page 1 "Forensic" report, page 2 "Forensic" report, page 3
"Forensic" report, page 4


This "calculation" leads to suspicion of trafficking

“Forensic” report Excel
"Forensic" report Excel, page 1 "Forensic" report Excel, page 2


house search
house search


House searches without sense of proportionality

In very many cases, the police found during the house searches, as was to be expected, just no plant, no dealer's nest, sometimes not even something weed. A huge effort for almost nothing! Then the procedure is reduced from suspicion to misdemeanor to prosecution a consumption case. But the effort is enormous: Having a handful of police officers at your home at six, seven o'clock in the morning, who often also pack your cell phone and computer is really very tedious. It can take a good few months before you get your paraphernalia back and the prosecutor realizes that the people concerned are not traders. Finally, a fine follows, which is often in the range of 500 to 1'000 francs (with fees). A forwarding of the files to the road traffic office is standard if you have a driver's license.

The subpoenas are also an imposition

Even those who are “only” summoned because of a seed order must also expect that the documents will be forwarded to the road traffic office, which may, depending on the case, initiate a review of driving fitness. In the process, the seeds could simply be destroyed and the person in question sent a warning. Or the few seeds could well be classified under the minor quantity (10 grams of cannabis are exempt from punishment according to the law) - then they would not even have to be confiscated. But the prosecutors don't want to know about such views. They prefer to use tax money for a disproportionate seed prosecution.

So orderinghemp seeds abroad very often leads to massive problems with the police and the road traffic office.

Example of a procedure according to NarcA 19a

Here follows an overview of the various issues and pitfalls in a police interrogation.

Before the police summons: The order of investigation

Here is an example of delegation. Customs (in the Zurich-Mülligen mail center) has found the seeds and forwarded the report to the canton (here: the canton of Bern), which now delegates the concrete investigations to a local office (here: the Nidau police station). The tone of voice is special: “We ask for investigations”, “we thank you for your valued cooperation”.

Notification of the local police station

Examples of a police summons

In the spring and summer of 2015, thousands of people were startled by a letter: police summons for violation of the NarcA. As second supplement (February 2015)written in the, second supplement (February 2015)there were already in 2014 some special procedures because of hemp seedsimports. In the spring, the whole thing escalated, because the customs now confiscated all envelopes with hemp seeds and denounced the addressees.

“How should I behave at this police interrogation? What to say, what to keep silent about? What consequences can the statements have? What is in store for me?

There was a great deal of uncertainty, which I also noticed during our legal consultations: At times, I conducted five per day. In summer 2015, after more than 100 cases, I summarize here the findings from the interrogations in the hemp seed import cases.

summons Zurich Cantonal Policesummons Bern Cantonal Policesummons Kapo Appenzell A. Rh.
summons Cantonal Police Zurich summons Cantonal Police Bern summons Cantonal Police Appenzell Ausserrhoden


The police interrogation

Subpoenaed persons should never underestimate a police interrogation. Criminal acts are involved: You have to watch what you say. Since the vast majority of those involved were dealing with the police for the first time, they had no idea what was in store for them.

For the police, on the other hand, it's everyday life: questioning suspects, applying pressure, getting confessions. That's what they're trained and paid for. So professional meets non-professional. The imbalance is very great!

The protocol

The central result of a police interrogation is the protocol, if possible with confessions. Even if the police officers have nothing to say about the sentence (this is subsequently determined by the municipal judge/state prosecutor's office or the public prosecutor ), their protocol is the decisive element for all further steps.

Silence...

Basically, and we cannot emphasize it enough: Keep silent, refuse to testify (at least partially) when questions are asked about illegal actions. Otherwise, you will only deliver yourself to the knife. But that is easier said than done.

There have been cases in which the victims went into the questioning convinced: I won't say anything. And came out stunned because they had both testified and agreed to the “voluntary” house search. As I said, it's not that simple. That makes it all the more important to really resolve to refuse to testify in whole or in part. It is simply the best remedy respondents have in such a situation.

...or testify?

Most of those involved could not imagine refusing to testify altogether or denying ordering (and enduring uncertainty about what would happen next).

When victims testify, the best thing to do is to admit that they ordered the seeds and that it was for their own consumption. This is an admission of an illegal act: the smallest possible one, contravention.

Most people would not have had to answer the questions about previous consumption, but it is difficult to simply stop the started statement here. Many of those affected then simply admitted to a small consumption (for example, every few months at a party).

Of course, the interviewees can also simply confess their entire consumption life, for the fines it makes no difference in most areas: there is a standard fine for consumption/premeditation.

But the crux of the matter is: once a police report states that someone has admitted to using regularly, the DMV (and sometimes other offices) will develop a suspicion of drug addiction.

A misdemeanor is quickly reached

Some thought that they could do better for themselves if they gave away a few of the hemp seeds they had ordered: “it's not just for me”. This “logic” is followed again and again by those affected. But the consequences are fatal: With this confession, one catapults oneself from the level of contravention to misdemeanor, the higher level of criminality. This always leads to a criminal record entry, even if only a single hemp seed should have been given away.

Even those who confessed to ordering but did not admit to ordering the seeds for personal use (to avoid falling into the clutches of the DMV as a drug user) were occasionally punished as full criminals. There are actually prosecutors who then simply find: Import is basically a misdemeanor (NarcA 19), so there is a punishment for a misdemeanor, even if it is only three hemp seeds. NarcA 19a they only consider at most if the statement clearly includes “for own consumption”.

⇒ The only meaningful exception to silence is to say that the import/possession/cultivation of illegal hemp products is for one's own consumption (NarcA 19a). Transfer (NarcA 19) would then have to be proven by the authorities.

Eager or efficient police forces

During the interrogations, there are the eager officers: meticulously everything is written down and they try to push the persons concerned to confess (especially to passing on); the protocol is sharpened in this sense; they want urine samples and at the end they want to take a look at the apartment (a “voluntary” house search, which is carried out immediately after the interrogation for the purpose of “checking the statements”). Anyone who drives up in a car is immediately suspected of driving under the influence of drugs…. Thus, the interrogation with all the trimmings can take a good half a day.

Occasionally, another type of police shows up, who explains to the person concerned “outside the protocol” that he is not interested in further details, he just wants to close the case efficiently. He needs a confession of ordering seeds for his own use, then that will be reported and for him it is done. That is true: he has confessed to an illegal act and that is enough to be able to issue a fine. In such cases, the questioning takes another quarter of an hour.

Overview of the problems surrounding a police interrogation

Deny, lie at best

“I did not order any illegal seeds.”

Anyone who has not ordered THC-seeds or legal CBD-seeds must absolutely testify to this! ⇒ Here it is of no use at all to refuse to testify.

The policemen and policewomen get grumpy, loud or abusive, you have to be able to endure that. The interrogation becomes more unpleasant, but the protocol only contains the statement that the order was not placed.

It can be helpful here to offer the police a house search so they can see for themselves what the facts are. The police often want a copy of the credit card statement from the relevant period.

If no evidence of the order is found, then a discontinuation order will follow (which may well take several months).

Silence, refuse to testify

“I'm not saying anything.”

No one has to incriminate themselves, everyone is allowed to refuse to testify. ⇒ However, it remains unclear whether one has placed the order or not.

The first consequence quickly becomes clear: The policemen and policewomen get grumpy, loud or abusive, and you have to be able to put up with that. ⇒ The interrogation becomes more unpleasant, but the protocol remains empty.

The second consequence is that things can continue very differently. It is possible that nothing will happen for months. At some point, further investigative actions may be taken. ⇒ This uncertainty can be very stressful.

Often, the authority issues a summary penalty order without further clarification, either according to NarcA 19a or, more rarely, according to NarcA 19. Then, if necessary, one must file an objection and demand a reassessment in court.

Confess order for own consumption

“I wanted to set this seeds and, if something had come, consume the result.”

⇒ All acts in preparation for one's own consumption are contraventions. ⇒ NarcA 19a (fine, fees)

The more definitely the persons concerned testify that the intended use of the seeds (or of hash / weed) is their own consumption, the clearer it becomes that it is only a contravention.

The police can now further inquire how often the persons concerned consume. This quickly leads to a recorded frequency of use, which can bring the traffic office or other authorities onto the scene.

In general, do not confess to past consumption (remain silent or deny or lie) or admit as little as possible.

Give away or confess sale

“A few seeds were for me, the others I wanted to give to my colleagues.”

⇒ Passing on (including giving away) and sale anyway represent misdemeanor represent. ⇒ NarcA 19 (fine, fees, monetary penalty in daily rates, entry in criminal record).

As soon as the person concerned wants to give away a seed, he or she ends up at misdemeanor.

Passing on or “only” intentions to pass on should absolutely be kept secret.

Anyone who only admits to ordering the seeds, but states ornamental plants rather than consumption as the intended use, can also end up here. Especially in Bern, the public prosecutor's office will definitely stay at NarcA 19, if “for own consumption” is not explicitly mentioned: previously convicted for hemp seeds…

⇒ This overview as Image or PDF

Various documents around the police interrogation

Example of a recorded complete refusal to testify

Protocol of a complete refusal to testify

Example of a house search protocol

In Bern, in particular, there were repeated house searches that took place immediately after the questioning. An enormous effort, which often led to nothing. Here is an example of a protocol of a house search:

Protocol house search Bern

Example of an indicator app, with downgrading from misdemeanor to contravention

In Bern there were many convictions for misdemeanor. Above all, the authorities there from the beginning always investigated with suspicion of a misdemeanor. This was the standard setting for misdemeanor in the referrals. Here is an example where this initial suspicion was changed by handwriting: from NarcA 19 to NarcA 19a, i.e. downgraded from misdemeanor to contravention.

Scoreboard report Bern with downgrade misdemeanor=>contravention, page 1 Scoreboard report Bern with downgrade misdemeanor=>contravention, page 2

Punishment must be

However, a penalty(s) followed in all cases (the penalty-free minor quantity was never taken into account). Warnings were only issued in Basel-Stadt (300 francs), otherwise fines/fees (200 to 1,000 francs) followed. In addition, there were some convictions for misdemeanor, examples follow as facsimiles:


Examples of summary penalty orders (hemp seeds import spring 2015)

If you think 2015 is long gone and now everything is different, please have a look at the summary penalty orders 2018. It is still the same, the prosecution of hemp seed imports still runs the same.

Usual fines from Nidwalden, Bern and Zurich

Anyone who orders hemp seeds for their own consumption is committing a contravention and will be fined. The amount of the fines and fees varies quite a bit, between 200 and 1000 francs everything is possible. Here is an example from Nidwalden, as well as one from Bern and from Zurich:

summary penalty order Nidwaldensummary penalty order Bernsummary penalty order Zurich
summary penalty order Nidwalden summary penalty order Bern summary penalty order Zurich


A (rare) warning from Baselstadt

That would have been the simplest option: Not summoning and questioning those involved by the police, but simply issuing a warning. But this only seems to happen in Basel-Stadt:

Discontinuation order Basel-City
Discontinuation order Basel-City


Misdemeanor conviction from Bern

In this case, the order was admitted, but not that the seeds should have been for personal use. Thus, the criterion for a contravention (precisely: intended for own consumption) is missing and the public prosecutor decides on a conviction for a misdemeanor. Joint importation can also end up like this.

summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (5 seeds)summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (9 seeds)
summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (5 seeds) summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (9 seeds)
summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (again because of 5 seeds)summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (again because of 9 seeds)
summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (5 seeds again) summary penalty order misdemeanor Bern (again because of 9 seeds)


Misdemeanor law conviction

The seeds should have served the “own use” criterion, but it was also the intention of passing on that was confessed (9 seeds should have been passed on). So there is a summary penalty order because of a misdemeanor, with 20 daily rates a very high punishment:

summary penalty order misdemeanor Jura
summary penalty order misdemeanor law


Conviction for a misdemeanor from Aargau

One of the most blatant summary penalty orders: Because of three hemp seeds there is a misdemeanor conviction…. Unbelievable, but the prosecutor gives 10 day sentences:

summary penalty order misdemeanor Aargau
misdemeanor because of three hemp seeds, page 1 misdemeanor because of three hemp seeds, page 2 misdemeanor because of three hemp seeds, page 3


Recognition of facts Basel Landschaft (2018/19)

Reports have come from Baselland about factual acknowledgements (below is an example). With the signature one confirms that one has ordered the hemp seeds. But unfortunately it is not clear whether it was for one's own consumption or for passing on. Nowhere does it say whether one admits to have acted according to NarcA 19a (personal use, contravention) or according to NarcA 19 (passing on or trade, misdemeanor). If you sign this document, you should make this clear.

sachverhaltsanerkennung_baselland_a.jpg sachverhaltsanerkennung_baselland_b.jpg

Now the documents of Basel Landschaft have been adapted: It is now clearly mentioned NarcA 19a. Thus, a signature under this document is equal to a statement that one has ordered hemp seeds for one's own needs.

sachverhaltsanerkennungbl_2019a.jpg sachverhaltsanerkennungbl_2019b.jpg

In the attached police report one sees very beautifully that the criminal procedure was led in principle because of NarcA 19 and/or by the customs so one indicated:

polizeiberichthanfsamenbl_2019a.jpg polizeiberichthanfsamenbl_2019b.jpg

The downgrading of NarcA 19 to NarcA 19a is extremely important: only in this way does the convicted “misdemeanor” then becomes a penalty because of a contravention.


Written survey in Zurich (2019)

There are also new written surveys. Unfortunately, it is also left open here whether it is basically a contravention (19a) or a misdemeanor (19) should be concerned: 19ff is simply left open. Therefore, one should really think through the answer to these questions carefully. Only if one states “hemp seeds ordered for own consumption” is 19a set. Otherwise, there remains a risk that one gets a summary penalty order for an offense after all….

hanfsamen_kapozh_fragebogen_2019.jpg


Non-acceptance order canton Zurich (2019)

The hemp seed prosecution also affects innocent people. Here is an example of a person affected who had not ordered the seeds. Finally, the public prosecutor Zurich stopped the proceedings. However, the person concerned had to spend 1'600 francs for a lawyer…

nichtanhandnahmezh_2019a.jpg nichtanhandnahmezh_2019b.jpg nichtanhandnahmezh_2019c.jpg


Testimonials from affected persons (August 2015)

A Kafkaesque Odyssey

With great interest I have read the various testimonials about the senseless seed tracking. Something similar happened to me and I would like to report about it as well:

In the spring of this year, I ordered three (!) Autoflowering-seeds for about 25 euros in an online store. Plus a nice grinder as a birthday present for a friend. The total value of the order was about 50 euros plus an additional 10-15 euros for shipping. So far, so good. I thought.

With the help of the parcel number, I was able to track the package online. As the last item entered remained Swiss customs, I could guess roughly what this meant for my package.

About two weeks later, I received a letter from the Lucerne police. I was summoned to a regional police station. I attended the appointment quite correctly (accompanied by my father). As it turned out, I knew the policeman and he was “not exactly angry with me”. The whole conversation went relatively smoothly and I had nothing serious to fear (here it should be added that I am fortunately still treated according to the juvenile criminal law). The policeman was able to tell me right away what I could expect: a fine of 100 to 150 francs. I had been lucky, I thought. Again two weeks later I received (addressed to my parents) the fine; the amount of 120 francs consisted of 70.- fine and 50.- fees. The fine was paid and the matter was settled. I thought.

One week later the phone rings, Luzerner police, I must be summoned because of the hemp seeds again. This time in the police station in Lucerne itself. Again, I kept this appointment completely correctly. The policeman there seemed to have slept quite badly (or was just otherwise not a very friendly nature…). I then refused to answer all questions (which was my right, as the policeman explained to me at the beginning).

In the protocol to be signed (which should have been formulated in principle on each question with a statement refusal), I had to find out that the policeman added at his own discretion still additions, opinions, comments and all kinds of small harassment. I asked him politely to remove these things, as they did not correspond to the truth in any way, to which he replied that this was not possible. For this reason, I then refused to sign the protocol.

Sooooo… the policeman said that if that was the case, he would have to take my fingerprints “willy-nilly”, have the fingerprints entered into the national system and carry out an identification service treatment (DNA, photos, etc. …). To be honest, I didn't really know what happened to me, but what could I do…? After about half an hour I had finished this “procedure” and was allowed to leave. Glad that the story was now done. I thought.

Three weeks later I got a call from the youth prosecutor's office, I would be summoned because I didn't want to make any statements to the police. So again a trip to Lucerne… The appointment there went off without a hitch. With the result that I would have to pay repeatedly 120.- francs and additionally have to do one day of social work.

Because of three cannabis seeds I was summoned three times, fined twice and punished once. This waste of resources makes me wonder whether the police are still an institution to be taken seriously. In my opinion, I was particularly harassed by the police officer in Lucerne. All kinds of threats were thrown at my head, I had to undergo an identification treatment and a protocol was written completely against my will.

This story shows what a great need for action there would be in the cannabis issue. Moreover, this situation seems to occur more frequently.

A smooth interview

Fortunately, the summons went quite smoothly for me. I had prepared myself for the worst (with house search, urine test, …), went to summons without a car and without a cell phone. I've definitely never felt as shitty as I did in front of the police station with my finger on the bell before…. But then a pleasant, young, normally dressed (no uniform!) policeman opened the door and reassured me right from the start that it wasn't so bad. He also said that I was by far not the only one in the canton. After explaining the rules of the questioning, he went through his questions and I provided my answers. There was no questioning about any of my answers. Of course, there was also the question of what I had done with the marijuana…. My answer was that if anything had come, I would have used it for personal use. What is amazing is that he said understandingly “yes of course, the little plants are quite delicate”. So nothing of a calculation that assumes that a highly potent plant sprouts from every seeds…

I think it would have been absolutely no problem to refuse the statement. Also when it came to the data such as wage, occupation, … he pointed out to me again that I don't have to say anything, but that they would find out otherwise through the tax office.

After he had all the answers and signatures, he said that this will be finished with a fine because of contravention. He estimated a fine of about 400 CHF.

After the questioning I felt happy as a clam and extremely relieved! Had imagined that really much, much worse.

An average punishment

My summary penalty order has just arrived. As expected there was a fine according to 19a. I thought maybe others would be interested in the amount of the fine, since it probably varies from canton to canton. I am from Aargau and the fine is now 200.- plus summary penalty order fee of 400.- and 37.- police costs, so all together 637.- for importing 5 hemp seeds and narcotics consumption. I have the feeling that I got off quite well (although that is of course still a lot for the fact that I only wanted to grow for my own consumption).

A similar case because of an envelope with hash

We are very interested in receiving further copies of summary penalty orders or reports about what we have experienced.

Mail, post or drop off.

The penalty-free de minimis quantity continues to be ignored

The best thing would have been to consider the few ordered hemp seeds as a minor amount of cannabis (up to 10 grams are exempt from punishment according to the law) - and to do nothing at all: neither seizures, nor summonses, nor house searches, nor even warnings. But so far no repressive organization wants to know anything about that. They want to maintain prosecution, even if it means supporting the illegal hemp market, because they have dried up the last possibilities for self-sufficiency: Thus they actively strengthen the black market. Basel-Stadt seems to represent the maximum of what is possible today with warnings, hours of house searches and questioning are the current low point.

Freedom instead of repression!

This politically motivated harassment of a minority is a waste of taxpayers' money. Apparently, police and customs have excess capacity, so they resort to such actions. It would make sense for the state budgets to reduce personnel if they have nothing more important to do. There is potential for savings here.

Trust in the rule of law is undermined. Cannabis users do not have the slightest personal impression that they are doing something wrong (no one is harmed in the process), but that the state is doing them an injustice. After all, personal freedom is guaranteed in the Swiss constitution.


Hemp seeds-prosecution in numbers

The hemp seed prosecution in the media

August 2015

May 2015

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