Hemp-prosecution 2021: Assessment, figures, graphics

Another repression year has been counted out. The numbers were also down in 2021. Is the repression machinery slowly losing its appetite for hemp prosecution? But beware: More than 20,000 people per year are still prosecuted for hemp!

Preliminary remark on the figures

The Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO) has again changed tables and categories, especially the totals for the accused (which we have published so far) have changed in a way that is no longer comprehensible. Therefore, we now present here the criminal offenses. These figures are slightly higher than the number of accused.

Overview to the contraventions

After the lost hemp referendum in 2008, the number of arrests knew only one direction - upwards. Then, starting in 2013, the fixed penalties replaced a portion of the referrals, but the overall numbers remained fairly constant. Since the Federal Supreme Court clarified in 2017 that possession of what the law calls a “penalty-free minor quantity” cannot in fact be punished, repression has been on the decline. Meanwhile, the numbers have halved since the peak in 2015. That is pleasing, but over 20,000 convictions per year for smoking pot are still very shocking!

The prosecution of hemp-contraventions 2009-2021

Contraventions represent the lower level of illegality. This involves the consumption of cannabis and the preparatory acts required for this (purchase, possession, cultivation, import, etc.). Contraventions are punished either with a fixed penalty or with a fine and fees.


Overview to the misdemeanors

At misdemeanors, there are no such clear trends as at contraventions, mostly there were around 8,000 referrals per year. However, the year 2015 stands out: 3,233 hemp seed cases were reported as misdemeanor. In the meantime, this has leveled off (instead, the new category smuggling at contraventions is now filled with such cases). The last two years show a significant decrease in misdemeanors. Is this only due to the pandemic or is it really the beginning of the end of hemp repression?

The prosecution of hemp-misdemeanors 2009-2021

Misdemeanors represent the higher level of illegality. This involves giving away or selling cannabis, i.e. passing it on. Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine, fees, monetary penalty in daily rates or, in serious cases, imprisonment (conditional or unconditional).


The seized hemp products 2021

Again, tons of illegal hemp were seized: almost three tons of hash and four tons of weed, as well as over 100,000 plants. Almost 15,000 cases were counted. These are impressive figures, especially for hash we have reached new heights.


Repression 2009 to 2021: Hash and weed in detail

After the overview in the last issue, this time we want to dive a little deeper into the repression events of 2021. We will start with an overview of the development of the number of people arrested for hash or weed in absolute figures.

Development hash / weed

From more than 40,000 in 2013, the number of people arrested dropped to around 20,000, while the figures for hashish remained more or less stable. This means that the proportion of all hash-related offenders increased.

Proportions of age groups for hash and weed

What is the age breakdown of those prosecuted? Our two graphs show the percentage of those prosecuted who come from the four age groups. At the top are the percentages of those convicted of hashish (brown), at the bottom the percentages of those convicted of weed(green).


While the proportion of hashish users over 30 years of age decreased and younger users increased (upper graph), the proportion of older users of weed increased continuously, while the proportion of users under 30 years of age decreased (lower graph).

Development 2009 to 2021: Hash preference by age

Here we show what percentage of those arrested in an age group were prosecuted for hash. What is striking is the almost reversal of the age order since 2018: Previously, the share of hash was much higher among older people; today, younger people are in the lead.

Proportion of hashish defendants

Initially, it declined sharply in all age groups, then it increased significantly. The border closure due to the pandemic led to a decline in 2020.

Repression 2009 to 2021: hemp seeds-prosecution in detail

For each year group, we plot the hemp seeds-reprimands with two bars: one for the misdemeanors-reprimands (purple) and one for the contraventions-reprimands (red). We clearly see here the shift away from the misdemeanors to the contraventions.

Development of referrals at the levels of misdemeanors and contraventions

Until 2011, there were hardly any hemp seeds cases, and if there were, they were mostly prosecuted as contraventions. In 2012, things took off and suddenly the majority were tracked as misdemeanors. 2015 was the year of hemp seed prosecutions. Since 2020, most cases are now (again) assessed as contraventions: So there was a rethinking by the authorities. But still a part is prosecuted as misdemeanors!

Statistics 1974 until 2020

Here are more articles about statistics. There are two periods: The period up to 2008 and the period from 2009 onwards. The figures for the two periods are only comparable to a limited extent. The figures for the previous year are published at the end of March each year.

Last modified: 2024/03/27 08:56

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