Switzerland is one of the fastest growing Cannabidiol (CBD) industries on the European continent and although exact statistics are lacking, Swiss CBD is popular. For Swiss citizens, there is a wide range of CBD products to choose from that spreads considerably beyond CBD hemp and other tobacco substitutes. Available cannabis products in the country include CBD oils, CBD drops, CBD capsules, CBD cosmetics and skincare, CBD edibles, food supplements, topicals, vaporizers, and even CBD cigarettes.
And buying CBD in Switzerland is easy. Not only is there plenty specialist and online CBD shops, such as uWeed, but CBD products are also available for purchase in everything from the local Coop or Denner, to petrol stations or kiosk. Now wonder that the Swiss CBD market generated around CHF 60 million (± €54 million) of revenue in 2017. And according to Tages-Anzeiger, growth is going to continue with projections showing that the legal cannabis and CBD industry should be worth CHF 320 million (± €288 million) by 2027.
Swiss CBD and cannabis laws
One of the main reasons why Switzerland has become a European hub for both CBD users as well as CBD producers is due to its progressive cannabis laws. What makes cannabis and CBD in Switzerland different to its European neighbours is that the Swiss government acknowledges the positive effects of CBD and THC (both active ingredients within the cannabis plant) as a potential medicine. And the Swiss cannabis law reflects this.
Under the current regulatory set-up, cannabis and CBD in Switzerland may contain up to 1% of THC content, more than three times the 0.2% THC permissible by other European countries. Similarly, authorization for the use of medical cannabis in Switzerland can be legally obtained by the doctor responsible for the treatment from the Federal Office of Public Health.
However, any cannabis products with over 1% THC falls under the category of narcotics containing an effective concentration of cannabinoids (Art. 8, in other words, it has psychoactive effects) and is regulated by the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. While it is illegal to cultivate, produce, sell or possess narcotic substances, there is no penalty for possessing small amounts of cannabis: 10 grams or less constitutes a negligible quantity. However, any person who wilfully consumes it without authorisation or any person who commits an offence in terms of Article 19 for his or her own consumption is liable to a fine”. In the case of consumption of cannabis or hash with over 1% THC, this results in a simplified procedure and fixed penalty of a CHF 100.- fine and the cannabis product shall be confiscated (Art. 28b).
Swiss CBD: benefits of the 1% THC rule for Switzerland
Switzerland’s 1% THC threshold makes the country an attractive and logical option for both international and Swiss CBD and cannabis businesses wanting to enter the European CBD industry.
However, this threshold also holds some surprising benefits for consumers. And here is why.
Swiss CBD producers & investors have more freedom
Swiss cannabis law is clear and uncomplicated; as long as the final product contains 1% THC or less, it’s legal, no matter what its source. In contrast, for EU member states, the law is much more ambiguous. Although industrial hemp cultivation and CBD products derived from certified industrial hemp that contains less than 0.2% THC is considered legal, CBD products containing extracts derived from what is not labelled as industrial hemp is less clear. Even when it contains 0.2% or less THC.
This means that, in order to avoid potential legal issues, a German CBD company is limited to producing and selling a narrow range of products derived purely from what is labelled as industrial hemp. On the other hand, Swiss cannabis and CBD companies can use both low-THC cannabis strains as well as industrial hemp, allowing for a lot more freedom with regard to both the sourcing of raw cannabis ingredients as well as types of CBD extracts and products they can bring to market.
Consumers have more choices with Swiss CBD
Because certain CBD products such as some concentrates, extracts and CBD flowers are a legal grey area in EU countries, many EU CBD producers simply steer clear from these. Swiss CBD producers on the other hand have the legal clarity and freedom that allows them to bring a wider range of products to market, offering their customers far more choice.
However, the biggest and maybe most surprising benefit Swiss consumers have, are the Swiss CBD products themselves. Because of the way in which the cannabis plant grows, the more mature the plant is, the higher the concentrations of cannabinoids become. In other words, cannabis plants (whether from a low-THC strain or from industrial hemp) which are allowed to mature to a level where they reach a concentration of 1% THC, also contain higher the levels of other cannabinoids such as CBD. This means that Swiss CBD consumers benefit from cannabis extracts which contain higher concentrations of all cannabinoids, arguably making them more therapeutically beneficial compared to their low-THC European produced counterparts.