The partially revised Narcotics Act NarcA

On November 30, 2008, the voters approved the partial revision of the Narcotics Act. It entered into force on July 1, 2011.

Sense and purpose

[Art. 1]

Five points define the purpose of this law. First, the NarcA requires the promotion of abstinence, second, it wants to regulate the availability of psychoactive substances. There is already the first contradiction - because originally the law wanted to regulate the handling of such substances, since we can not do without them (especially in the medical field - just think of an operation without anesthetic!). A large part of this law also includes regulations on how doctors, pharmacists, dentists and veterinarians obtain the necessary narcotics and how they must store them. We do not deal with these parts of the narcotics law - such regulations are only interesting for special professionals.

For all others the same applies: Handling these substances is “unauthorized” and therefore illegal. And here the goal is abstinence.

Thirdly, people are to be protected, fourthly, public order, and finally, criminal acts are to be fought with the law. Of course, these three points are pure wishful thinking - narcotics are consumed precisely to protect oneself from pain and to have pleasant experiences. Drug crime is just created by the illegalization of certain substances. Prohibition, which is ultimately what we are talking about here, has obviously failed, but is to be continued in an intensified form.

4-pillar principle

[Art. 1 a]

Drug policy is to be based on four pillars: prevention, therapy and reintegration, harm reduction and survival assistance, and control and repression. After being applied without any legal basis since the mid-1990s, the four-pillar policy is now being given a legal basis.

A right to intoxication, a right to be able to determine one's own consumption of narcotics as a responsible person, is sought in vain in this law.


[Art. 2]

Illicit psychoactive substances are newly grouped into six categories. First, the law lists narcotics. These are to be dependence-producing substances of the effect types morphine, cocaine and cannabis. Then come the psychotropic substances: amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and hallucinogens. This distinction is also obviously false. While amphetamines and cocaine have very similar effects and problems and would belong in one category, cannabis is certainly not a narcotic in the classical sense.

Substances are raw materials such as plants and mushrooms. Then come the preparations (“ready to use”), the precursors, and the auxiliary chemicals.

[Art. 2 a]

The Federal Department of Home Affairs FDHA shall draw up a specific list of these substances. The DHA has defined any substance with more than 1.0% THC as a narcotic in the sense of the law. This eliminates the need for proof of the law enforcement agencies with regard to hemp plants. The special term “hemp herb for the production of narcotics” is now history - only the THC content of a plant or a substance decides whether they are illegal or not. And no longer the intended use.

Prohibited narcotics

[Art. 8]

The list of prohibited narcotics includes four classes of substances. First the smoky opium, then the heroin, followed by the LSD and now new [Art. 8 d] “narcotics of the effect type cannabis” (formerly: “hemp herb for the production of narcotics and the resin of its glandular hairs (hashish)”). So here again the intended use of hemp herb is defined as irrelevant - only the list of the EDI decides (with the definition of “more than 1.0% THC”) whether a hemp product is an illegal narcotic or not. This is clearly a simplification of criminal prosecution, thus a tightening of repression.

Prohibited unauthorized handling

[Art. 19 1]

Pretty much everything is prohibited (except just for medical persons and their patients, who have their own rules): cultivating, manufacturing, producing, storing, shipping, transporting, importing, exporting, carrying out, disposing of, prescribing, procuring, putting into circulation, possessing, keeping, acquiring, obtaining, financing, arranging financing, publicly soliciting consumption or announcing opportunities for acquisition or consumption. Even institutionalizing these activities is prohibited. Thus, all these acts are basically illegal misdemeanor. If the police and judiciary detect such acts in someone, punishment follows.

The first time this can mean 1,000 francs fine and 10 daily rates (amount depending on income, between 30 and 3,000 francs per daily rate), as well as an entry in the criminal record. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment. (Only consumption is not mentioned here, it follows below).

Consumption is also prohibited

[Art. 19 a 1.]

The unauthorized consumption of narcotics is also punishable. However, the old rule remains that consumption and the preparatory acts necessary for it (all the activities we listed above under “prohibited unauthorized handling”) constitute a contravention (and not a misdemeanor). The penalty for such contraventions is a fine (for example, 150 francs fine plus various writing, delivery and other fees, with fines becoming higher if someone is repeatedly punished - this without an entry in the criminal record).

(The articles [Art. 19 a 2.] and [Art. 19 b] are dealt with here).

Tougher "protection of minors

[Art. 19 bis]

Offering, supplying and making available narcotics to under-18s is now a very punishable offense: the range of punishment is up to three years' imprisonment. Such behavior is therefore a misdemeanor, with all the consequences mentioned above. And this even if it is only a matter of passing on a joint. Especially the term of offering is fuzzy: Is already the consumption of illegal narcotics in the presence of young people such an offense, or “only” the concrete passing on of a joint? The courts will have to clarify this. The same applies to making drugs available: Are parents already liable to prosecution if their offspring steal something illegal from them?

Of course, these regulations were intended to combat the evil dealers. But in all likelihood it will not be them who will be affected, but other young people (and possibly their THC-consuming parents). When young people smoke a joint together, they are of course passing illegal narcotics on to under-18s - and are thus extremely liable to prosecution.

In the future, the following situation will be very special: If a young person passes a joint on to an adult, the handover is exempt from punishment (19 a 2). If then this adult returns the joint, he makes himself very punishable (up to three years imprisonment), because he passes narcotics to a juvenile (19 bis). Again, one sees that our parliament does not understand anything about the real processes - or willfully writes absurd regulations into the law?

Canton criminal prosecution

[Art. 28]

The criminal prosecution remains a matter for the cantons. This leads to the great differences in the amount of fines imposed on consumers (from the discontinuation of proceedings, to fixed penalties in the amount of 50 francs, to fine costs (incl. ancillary costs) of around 1,000 francs).

The (Swiss) Federal Supreme Court explicitly gives the cantonal courts great freedom in choosing and structuring the punishment. This is because our federalist system leaves punishment primarily to the cantonal authorities.

Medical use?

[Art. 8 5]

Here the possibility is defined that the Federal Council can permit these actually totally forbidden substances by means of exceptional authorizations, if it concerns scientific research, medicament development or the limited medical application. Especially the last point, the limited medical use, is extended in the new version of this law to all four “totally” prohibited narcotics (previously this was only possible for heroin and LSD). Thus, opium and cannabis products can now also be used medically.

The exact interpretation of this new possibility is still open - it depends on how much pressure sick people and their doctors will make. It will also depend on the pharmaceutical industry whether it invests in such drugs and finally on the Federal Office of Public Health/Swissmedic whether it grants the necessary authorizations restrictively or willingly.

Currently (summer 2011), the situation is as follows: doctors could prescribe hemp medicine if there was an indication and the preparation was not smoked. In addition, all parties involved would have to have a special permit. There are currently no approved hemp medicines, except for the relatively expensive, synthetic dronabinol, but even for that an exceptional permit is needed.

Here follows the corresponding "old" text, which was valid until 30.6.2011.

What are the laws against THC?

Many laws

There are many laws that are applied against hemp and smoking pot. It is not only the narcotics law that oppresses the stoners. There are also various problems for fans of the green herb in other areas of life. But central is the narcotics law with all its regulations:

  • SR 0.812.div.: The International Conventions in the field of drugs are the international basis for the Swiss Narcotics Law.
  • SR 812.121: Federal Law of October 3, 1951 on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (as of November 27, 2001), NarcA This contains the basics. Important are especially the articles 1 (hemp herb and the resin of its glandular hairs are narcotics), article 8 (total prohibition of hemp herb for narcotic production and the resin of its glandular hairs (hashish)), article 19 (penal provisions).
  • SR 812.121.1: Ordinance of 29 May 1996, BetmV (as of 18 December 2001). Important is article 66 (duty of information of owners of hemp crops).
  • SR 812.121.2: Ordinance of the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products of December 12, 1996 (as of December 18, 2001), BetmV-Swissmedic. Annex d (list of prohibited substances) is important.
  • SR 812.121.3: Predecessor Ordinance of May 29, 1996, VorlV (as of December 18, 2001)
  • SR 812.121.6: Ordinance of 8 March 1999 on the Medical Prescription of Heroin (limited until 31 December 2009 at the latest)
  • SR 812.129: Catalogue of hemp varieties SR 916.151.6 Art. 4; Annex 4 (as of June 1, 2004). The THC-reduced hemp varieties are listed here.

Other important laws include:

  • SR 311.0: The Criminal Code regulates the basic elements of police and justice, such as the definition of terms (contravention, misdemeanor, felony, statute of limitations, etc.).
  • Behelf 51.29: Behelf Suchtmittel der schweizerischen Armee concerns military personnel caught with cannabis while on duty.
  • SR 741.01: Road Traffic Act
  • SR 741.11: Traffic Regulation Ordinance
  • SR 741.51: Ordinance on the admission of persons and vehicles to road traffic

All these laws are nationwide laws and apply in all cantons and can be accessed via, Systematische Rechtssammlung (SR). However, the concrete criminal prosecution and judgment jurisdiction is organized federally. This means that each canton has established its own regulations (and indeed its own police forces). These cantonal criminal procedure codes define, for example, the procedures in the proceedings (use of force, pre-trial detention, judicial instances) and can be downloaded from the respective cantonal websites.

weed/Marijuana (“hemp herb for the production of narcotics”) and hashish (“the resin of its glandular hairs”) belong in the Swiss Narcotics Law (NarcA) to the substances classified in the total prohibition category, together with hallucinogens, smoky opium and heroin. This means that no one has the right to manufacture and sell these substances (except for scientific experiments with a permit). Cocaine, morphine and codeine, on the other hand, can be legally used in certain medicines. Until the end of 2009, heroin was also de facto classified in this class: It can be prescribed as a medicine in certain cases since a few years. However, the psychoactive hemp products have remained in the total prohibition category.

Comprehensive ban

Pretty much everything is prohibited: Whoever cultivates, produces, extracts, converts, processes, stores, dispatches, transports, imports, exports, carries out, offers, distributes, sells, brokers, procures, prescribes, puts into circulation, delivers, possesses, stores, buys, obtains, finances, whoever incites to consume, intentionally incites to consume or intentionally consumes narcotics (i.e. in our case marijuana, hashish, weed- or hashish oil), will be punished. Got it? <strong>It is prohibited.</strong> This law thus clearly states that both the mere consumption is already punishable as well as the possession for personal use, as well as the cultivation for personal use. Only a small amount or a minor case can go unpunished. This law does not want to know anything about commercial cultivation and sale.

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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