Swiss activists want to take advantage of the fact that marijuana containing only CBD has been legalized and promote recreational strains as well. A new public cannabis initiative is underway - 10 years after the defeat in the last referendum. But will cannabis become completely legal in Switzerland this time?
What is the Swiss activists' initiative all about?
The campaign website notes that over the past few months, more than 20,000 people have agreed to express their support for cannabis legalization and have donated an amount of around CHF 100,000 to resurrect the cannabis initiative.
Organizers have now postponed the collection of signatures, which began in April, in order to better publicize their idea. Ahead of the referendum, the task is not only to focus on the biggest companies in the sector, but also associations and organizations involved in addiction and health research.
At stake is a relatively uncomplicated change in the wording of the law, which involves just a few words to lay the groundwork for a regulated cannabis market:
The Constitution of the Federal Confederation of Switzerland of April 18, 1999 would be amended as follows:
- The consumption of active substances and preparations from cannabis, as well as their preparation for personal consumption, is not a crime. Plants that enable the production of active substances and compounds of this type for personal consumption are also decriminalized. The Confederation issues regulations for the commercial collection and preparation, as well as the sale of active substances and compounds from cannabis. It is not permitted to provide active substances and compounds derived from cannabis to minors, except under medical supervision. The Confederation may collect special taxes from consumers on cannabis active substances and compounds that are not used for medical treatment.
Even winning the referendum does not guarantee success
Another problem remains - even if a referendum were to win a majority, the situation is still not a foregone conclusion. In Switzerland, a public initiative succeeds only if more than half of the cantons (basic administrative units), in addition to the support of the majority of the population, also vote in its favor.
Thus, the vote in the traditionally conservative, small cantons in the center and west of Switzerland will have a very large impact and could result in recreational marijuana remaining illegal. According to recent polls, a majority (66%) of Swiss people favor the creation of a regulated cannabis market, but the number of cantons opposed to any form of cannabis is still higher than the more liberal ones. Should the referendum fail, another one is unlikely to be created in the near future, and the chances of regulating the cannabis market would be worse than without losing the initiative.
Marijuana only if victory is certain
The pilot projects that activists in Switzerland are fighting for would be in jeopardy if the cannabis initiative were to fail. If that were to happen, it would mean not only that nothing would change, but also that the public has confirmed twice in 10 years that they don't want to change anything. A vote along these lines would destroy the chances of gradual liberalization at the political level and could do more harm than good that a marijuana legalization initiative would otherwise do.
Is Switzerland just an example of how promoting marijuana legalization too recklessly produces the complete opposite effect? Although it is in the interest of the majority of the population to want to regulate these issues, people with more conservative views are not ready for change. The situation is similar in Poland and other European countries - young people want and need the legal legalization of cannabis, but they do not have enough clout.