A changed parliament and the pending hemp business in winter 2019/20

A narrow majority of the National Council is in favor of a new approach to hemp. Will something move now? In a report, the Federal Commission on Narcotic Drugs once again calls for a different drug policy.

Election result

The 2019 parliamentary elections are behind us. What does the result mean for the hemp issue?

First to the National Council - here the old blockade attitude could come to an end. If the parties vote the same way again as in the last years, then it looks numerically as follows:

On the one hand, those who take a liberal stance on the hemp issue: SP, Greens, Solidarités, PdA, GLP, BDP: 39+ 28+1+16+3 = 88 seats. On the other side, those who want to stick to prohibition: CVP, EPP, SVP, Lega, EDU, LDP: 25+3+53+1+1 = 84 seats. The FDP's 28 seats go roughly 50/50 to both sides on this issue, resulting in a potential narrow majority of 102 to 98 votes.

Reasonable hope?

However, the BDP, which still has three seats, has now joined the CVP parliamentary group. If it were now to join the CVP in rejecting the hemp issue, the majority for new steps in the hemp issue would already be gone (99 to 101 votes).

It is already an extremely narrow potential majority… It depends on each and everyone in the parliament, because already a few dissenters from the party line can turn the majority around. There are also many new faces in the National Council and we must now follow how they will behave in future votes.

In any case, there is now at least some potential to move forward: The previous nay-saying in the National Council could come to an end.

Now to the Council of States: here, too, there will be many new faces. If the Council of States remains true to its stance in recent years, something should become possible. If, on the other hand, it puts on the brakes again, as it did in the past, then further standstill could be imminent.

It would therefore be good if there were pressure from outside to get this parliament moving in a sensible direction.

Initial assessments will be made possible by the following pending business:

Cannabis pilot testing

The Commission for Social Security and Health of the National Council (SGK-N), at its meeting of 15.11.19 (in the old line-up), took note of the report on the protection of minors that it had requested and very narrowly rejected the bill for cannabis pilot testing (12 votes to 11 with 2 abstentions). This has shown again: With the old National Council, with the old commission, simply nothing was possible. It will be interesting to see how the newly elected National Council behaves. It must now decide whether the bill should be retained. Will the new National Council set an initial course here? ⇒ Details on parlament.ch, 19.021

Hemp out of the NarcA

A separate hemp law has been demanded in parliament on several occasions, so far without success. At present, the following issues are pending: ⇒ Heinz Siegenthaler (BDP): “Equal treatment of cannabis and high-proof alcohol”, 18.3150 ⇒ Beat Flach (GLP): “Legalize cannabis and generate tax substrate for AHV/IV”, 18.4009

On cannabis-consensus.ch some first information has been published and interested people can subscribe to the newsletter, which will be published regularly.

EKSF Report

In September, the Federal Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CCSF) presented another report on drug policy. In it, it looks at the question of whether the Narcotics Act (NarcA) has been successful in the ten years since its partial revision. As expected, it comes to a damning conclusion: the goals of NarcA have not been achieved. Prohibition does not work, abstinence cannot be enforced. The terms addiction and drugs are outdated and should be replaced by psychoactive substances and potentially addictive behavior.

The Commission wants reality to finally be accepted: Much of the use of legal and illegal psychoactive substances takes place at low risk, and only a few develop problematic use. And it is only this problematic use that the commission wants to address, leaving low-risk use to responsible citizens.

Thus, complete abstinence is no longer to be defined as an (unattainable) goal, but harm reduction is to be the focus. In other words, the prevention of inappropriate consumption (in the presence of minors, in traffic, at the workplace), excessive behavior (overconsumption) and chronic behavior (long-term consumption). Such risky or even dependent use should be addressed, because this is where the big problems arise. This, by the way, is independent of the substance - for the commission, dangerousness cannot simply be determined by the substance, but by the way it is handled, by the (in)control of consumption.

Of particular interest are the comments on reporting powers and procedures relating to adult and child protection law. After criticizing the diverse and unclear reporting powers that already exist today, it becomes clear that the commission wants a reporting system with clear procedures (who may report what to whom and who can then intervene and how?; in addition, clear appeal possibilities) as well as the possibility of obliging conspicuous persons to participate in therapies. It remains unclear where exactly who would draw the line between low-risk and risky/dependent. The cantonal KESB? The addiction authorities? A revised NarcA?

Decisive things remain open - and especially the measures of the road traffic authorities show that besides the criminal law prosecution there are at least as troublesome measures, which in effect can be even worse than a criminal sentence. We must keep an eye on this area!

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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Legal overview

Shit happens 15 (Summer 2023)

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