The policy at discuss, weigh and consider

Dealing with THC products remains a political issue. A commission has discussed it, the Federal Council wants nothing more to do with it and the city of Bern wants to consider a trial run. An overview of the state of the political debate.

Commission of the National Council

At the beginning of 2005, the National Council's Commission for Safety and Health proposed a new start for the revision of the Narcotics Law (see Legalize it! 32, page 3). The Council of States Commission for Social Security and Health SGK-S then gave the green light for this commission initiative in May 2005. On April 10, 2006, the SGK-N spoke out again in a press release: by 17 votes to four with three abstentions, it agreed to deal with the partial revision of the Narcotics Law. A rejection motion had no chance. However, our topic THC should not be a topic (see also next section). What exactly is to be regulated in this partial revision is not yet entirely clear. However, the goal of abstinence was specified in Article 1. This is strange in that it is mainly the four-pillar policy (prevention, therapy, repression, survival assistance) that is to be enshrined in law. And with it precisely the insight that wanting abstinence is not a suitable means of drug policy. Based on the insight that abstinence cannot be enforced, heroin has been medically dispensed to severely addicted persons for several years. This is why this expedient article is so astonishing. Even if the THC issue remains excluded, this partial revision is also interesting for us. It is particularly important to know what exactly will happen to the penal provisions against the use of narcotics - will they be tightened, will they remain the same, or will there perhaps be a slight relaxation? Only the exact wording of the legal text will be able to provide information on this.

According to the committee secretary, the SGK-N has finished its detailed deliberations and approved the partial revision by 18 votes to 6 with one abstention. The text is now with the Federal Council and could reach the National Council at the end of 2006.

Subcommission of the SGK-N

A sub-commission of the SGK-N is still in the process of considering the issue of THC consumption and THC trafficking. The subcommission met at least in August 2005, but we have not heard anything concrete from it. It seems that the sub-commission does not want to prepare its own proposal after all - or if it does, then in the form of a counter-proposal to the initiative. This would be the only way that the legal situation could change fundamentally in the next few years.

Federal Council and initiative

Surprisingly fast the Federal Council reacted to the popular initiative “for a reasonable hemp policy with effective youth protection”. On May 3, 2006, for example, the NZZ stated that the Federal Council recommends to reject the initiative and does not want to prepare a counter-proposal. But by the time of going to press, no official message had been prepared - so the business is still pending with the Federal Council. The formulated message could be available by the end of the year, then it continues in parliament.

The city of Bern sets an example

In March 2005, more than a year ago, one read in the Bernese “Bund” about an idea in the city of Biel. In a pilot project, it was to be tested whether hash and weed could be sold in a controlled manner. This would be a similar procedure to the controlled distribution of heroin: there, too, scientific experiments were started despite a fundamental ban. However, this innovative idea from Biel was never implemented. Incidentally, the canton of Berne also refused to initiate such a trial. At the end of May 2006, it was the city of Bern that took up the idea. Here, things have now become more concrete: The government and parliament of the city of Bern are in favor of such a trial. At the request of the Green Alliance and the Young Alternatives, the Bern City Council decided by 38 to 22 to clarify what is possible. In the “Bund” the Federal Office of Public Health BAG let itself be heard: “This is not possible.” A pilot test would not be compatible with the current law. But for scientific research, experiments would be possible. Ultimately, it is probably a question of the political balance of power whether a trial operation will be possible. But first, the city of Bern wants to clarify all open questions properly. Because there are still a few problems with this idea. For example, the police, justice and social affairs departments would have to work together, and the main political parties would have to really want such a trial. That is not yet the case. But the vote in the Bern City Council shows that our topic has not been completely forgotten. And it shows that there is a different opinion in the city of Bern than in the federal government. In the city of Zurich, a similar proposal was submitted by the Young Greens. It may well be that this will also find a majority - this will not change anything in concrete terms, but such symbolic resolutions do have their value. They put pressure on and annoy the opponents of legalization.


Much is being discussed around the topic of THC. Here are the ongoing political projects:

1 The commission initiative wants a partial revision of the Narcotics Law.

2 The subcommission is considering whether the handling of THC should be changed.

3 The popular initiative calls for the legalization of THC products and will ultimately be decided by the people.

4 The city of Bern wants to examine a trial operation for the sale of THC products.

5 Finally, there is a plethora of parliamentary initiatives - here there are all kinds of variants from the demand for even much harsher penalties to the demand for legalization.

Wasserfallen against drugs

In motion 04.3376, Kurt Wasserfallen (FDP) demanded that the ban on THC products be clearly anchored. He further demanded that the penalties for dealing with THC products be greatly increased and that abstinence be given greater weight. In short: With his motion, he wanted to achieve a tightening of the already repressive Swiss drug policy.

Fehr wants a differentiated view

Jacqueline Fehr (SP) thought nothing of this motion and wanted to prepare the new revision of the Narcotics Law: “Well, this next revision is already at the doors of the National Council. The preparatory commission has completed its work. We have followed a two-step procedure. On the one hand, in a first step, the majority elements are to be regulated in a new and modern way by law. This concerns in particular the anchoring of the four-pillar policy as well as the strengthening of a genuine protection of minors. In addition, this new revision, as proposed by the SGK of our Council, will provide a legal regulation for the medical use of cannabis. In a second step, on the other hand, with regard to the submitted hemp initiative, a legal regulation for the handling of cannabis should then be found, which ends the current arbitrariness, provides legal certainty and strengthens the protection of minors.” And she takes a look into the future (see also Legalize it! 33, pages one and two): “Now the Federal Drug Commission (…) has shown how the four-pillar concept could be expanded, namely by a new dimension, the dimension of consumption intensity. There is low-risk consumption, problematic consumption and dependent consumption. (…) With this model, we see that (…) cannabis can be used in a low-risk way, but it can also be used in a problematic or dependent way. (…) So, with this model, we are approaching an actual discussion about the actual risk from the use of individual substances.”

Vermot does not want criminalization

Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold would also like to continue the discussion: “The Commission for Social Security and Health has now completed its work, and we will discuss the first part of this narcotics law in September. The hemp initiative has been submitted. It points in the right direction for practitioners and experts, even if the Federal Council unfortunately rejects it without a counter-proposal. Decriminalization and youth protection are the basic demands. (…) Criminalization always falls short. Rather, prevention is needed, which really deals with the young people and their various problems.

Gutzwiller emphasizes the repressive parts

Felix Gutzwiller (FDP) did not want to support his party colleague: “The partial revision, which is now completed within the framework of the commission, brings a clear concept. It brings the anchoring of the four-pillar policy, but also brings (…) some things that meet the concerns here (of the motion Wasserfallen, the editor). For example, at the request of a commission member, the abstinence target was included in the bill. Certain penalties were also tightened. There is an improvement in the protection of minors.” We can be curious about the final text - especially the tightening of certain penalties makes us look with concern at this partial revision, as well as the newly included abstinence goal.

Another close vote

80 members of the National Council spoke in favor of the motion, 90 against. Thus, Wasserfallen could not prevail with his tightening. But it is once again a close result - and it shows that large forces are not only against any liberalization, but are even in favor of further tightening. At least the reform-oriented forces were able to prevail. But will that be enough for a majority for a reasonable partial revision?

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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