Introduction and overview

Levels of legality and illegality of THC

Foodstuffs containing THC below the limits may be produced, sold and consumed. The permitted (very low) limits are specified in an ordinance.
Hemp flowers with less than 1% THC may be consumed freely. When sold as smoked products, the corresponding packaging regulations must be observed.

Sort of legal: The penalty-free small amount of cannabis

The possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis for personal consumption as well as for simultaneous, joint and gratuitous consumption among adults is not punishable (consumption, however, is always punishable). Sort of legal in the narcotics area (for hemp: from 1% THC content) are therefore only the preparations for the first consumption until just before consumption. Actually, an unpunished quantity may not be confiscated.
According to the law no punishment possible (was almost always ignored by the police until 2017), a not punishable quantity may also not be confiscated (was almost always ignored by the police until 2023).

A little illegal: consumption detected by the police (with a maximum of 10 grams).

Consumption detected by police can be punished by a fixed penalty of 100 francs (adults only). There is no increase of the fine in case of repetition and also no fees, so this is equivalent to wrong parking. At the same time, one may possess a maximum of 10 grams of illegal hemp products (which are also mostly confiscated in these cases). Whoever possesses more or commits further crimes will be reported.
Contravention, punished by police: fixed penalty

Normal illegal: private consumption and preparations for it

Consumption that the police have not detected, but can be proven, must be dealt with in the ordinary procedure, as must possession of more than 10 grams for personal use. The police draw up a protocol with the facts of the case and report the person in question. The criminal authority then issues a summary penalty order: fine and fees cost 200 to 1'000 francs. Those who are reported several times can always receive higher fines and fees.
Contravention, punished by authorities: fine and fees

Highly illegal: passing on and selling as well as THC and car driving

As soon as a THC product with at least 1% THC changes hands, it is passing on and a misdemeanor. Selling is not necessary for this, giving away is sufficient. Passing on a joint to young people is also considered misdemeanor, as is driving a car with THC in the blood.
Whoever lives from the trade and is caught, gets a minimum sentence of one year and is considered a serious case. In the case of repetition, there can thus also be prison sentences of several years.
Misdemeanor : fine, costs, fine or imprisonment, repayment of profits, criminal record.

As medicine, preparations with more than 1% THC can be taken, but doctors are still extremely reluctant and rarely prescribe cannabis. (We leave out the special topic of scientific trials).

THC use still subject to criminal prosecution

Many joints without consequences...

Most hemp users can smoke pot without the state noticing. The vast majority of joints burn down peacefully without being confiscated by the police. If you search, you will find weed or hash, be it on the street, in private circles or on the internet.

Those who have never been prosecuted for THC consumption may ask themselves: Is there any repression against smoking pot in Switzerland at all?

Unfortunately, the answer is clearly yes. In fact, it is a big part of the overall state repression. The narcotics law is a harsh law. If you think you are safe and then, due to carelessness or bad luck, you are confronted with police violence, you may be shocked at how you are treated.

...but tens of thousands of people affected each year

The official prosecution figures are alarmingly high: 20,000 people were prosecuted by the police for hemp in 2022. They were accused of 23,000 illegal acts related to consumption and trafficking. If we assume a few hundred thousand THC users in Switzerland, about 10 percent are bothered by the police, the public prosecutor or the courts every year.

Yes, the prosecution of THC in Switzerland exists and the range of punishment is broad (from a warning to 20 years imprisonment). This is what we want to show with our legal information and, above all, to make clear the conditions that apply to the gradations of legality and illegality of THC: so that everyone is prepared. Because when it happens, one is faced with an organized apparatus that can chalk up all the investigative actions as paid working time, while the people concerned defend themselves in their free time and (if guilty) also have to pay the investigation costs as well as the fine.

Inform yourself before a procedure

Many decisive facts are set in motion at the very beginning of a trial, and one's own testimony in particular is an important element. Here, everyone should always think very carefully about what they want to admit or conceal.

For this, THC-users have to think about the legal consequences of smoking pot before the first police contact, which will probably happen sooner or later. Otherwise you will get yourself and your environment deeper into the mess than is absolutely necessary. Because: Shit happens…

If you have dealt with the situation in advance and developed a strategy, you will be better able to deal with prosecution.

Terms in our wiki (with links to wikipedia)

Latin for hemp
A dioecious plant species comprising of distinct male and female plants, which produce the active ingredient THC, especially in the resin.
The dried female hemp flowers
Resin of the hemp plant (obtained from weed)
Smoking pot / THC use
Consuming hash/weed (smoking, eating, drinking or inhaling).
Smokers / THC users
People who consume hemp containing THC.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in hemp and, according to the law, is decisive in determining whether a substance is illegal.
Products with at least 1.0% THC are prohibited narcotics. Until 31.7.22 hash was illegal regardless of the THC content. Since 1.8.22, the limit of 1% THC now also applies to it. Weed and hash contain about 5 to over 20 % THC.
The THC content can also be measured in the blood.
THC carboxylic acid (THC-COOH)
A metabolic breakdown product of THC and not psychoactive. Rapid tests detect this substance in urine.
Measured in the blood, it indicates the amount of THC consumed.
Contravention or misdemeanor?
A contravention is the smallest illegal act and is punished with fixed penalty or a fine.
A misdemeanor is more serious and results in a fine, a monetary penalty in daily rates or imprisonment and an entry in the criminal record (removal usually after 10 years).
Contraventions expire after 3, misdemeanor after 10 or 15 years.
Conditional and unconditional penalty
A conditional monetary penalty or a conditional prison sentence is not enforced, but is reviewed for a few years to see if the convicted person will reoffend.
In this case, a court may declare the sentence unconditional and enforce it.
Contraventions represent the lower level of criminality. Do not confuse with misdemeanors!
Misdemeanors represent the higher level of criminality. Do not confuse with contraventions!
Felonies (= serious misdemeanors) represent the highest level of criminality. Do not confuse with contraventions!
The police report an accused person, and the penalty is then imposed by the public prosecutor or authorities responsible for prosecuting contraventions. Exception: A fixed penalty for detected consumption can be issued directly by the police.
Summary penalty order
Both contraventions and misdemeanors are usually punished by summary penalty orders. Court decisions are extremely rare.
Contraventions are punished exclusively by a fine (plus fees), misdemeanors are punished by a monetary penalty or imprisonment (plus fees and other costs) in addition to a fine.
Fixed penalty
A fixed penalty is issued directly by the police. It can only be given for minor, defined contraventions. For cannabis: 100 francs for police-detected consumption. Do not confuse with fines and monetary penalties!
Monetary penalty
Monetary penalties are imposed for minor misdemeanors (major misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment). Do not confuse with fixed penalties and fines!

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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