Switzerland aims to Facilitate Access to Medicinal Cannabis

On 19 March 2021, the Swiss parliament approved amendments to the Swiss Narcotics Act. Among other things, this amendment stipulates that cannabis-based treatments can be prescribed directly by a doctor without having to obtain an exceptional authorization from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

Cannabis regulations currently in force in Switzerland


In Switzerland, cannabis is currently considered as an illegal narcotic and is subject to a comprehensive traffic prohibition. Consequently, cannabis may not be cultivated, produced, imported, exported or distributed. At present, the medical use of cannabis is therefore only possible to a limited extent and with an exceptional authorization from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Sativex® is currently the only cannabis medicinal product authorized under medicinal product law in Switzerland. (Article in German)

CBD products

Products with cannabidiol (CBD) are also en vogue in Switzerland. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not subject to the Swiss Narcotics Act. However, this does not mean that CBD can be added to products in Switzerland as desired or advertised arbitrarily. Swissmedic has therefore prepared a fact sheet on the various offers of raw materials and products containing CBD and their classification and marketability based on the current legal situation. The fact sheet serves primarily as a guide to the responsibilities of the relevant authorities. In addition, suppliers should be informed about the legal requirements to be observed.

How should the Swiss Narcotics Law be amended?

The demand for treatment with cannabis has risen considerably in Switzerland. In order to facilitate the use of medicinal cannabis, the current prohibition in the Swiss Narcotics Act is to be lifted. (Article in German)

The following changes are to be made:

  • The traffic prohibition on cannabis for medical purposes should be lifted.
  • Treatment with medicinal cannabis products will no longer require an exceptional authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). In future, doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis medicines.
  • The cultivation, processing, GMP-compliant production and trade of medicinal cannabis should be subject to the authorization and control system of Swissmedic - as this is the case with other narcotics used for medical purposes (for example methadone or morphine).
  • The commercial export of cannabis for medical purposes should be legalized.
  • Quality requirements for the production of cannabis flowers were already included in the Swiss Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Helv.) in 2019. EMA's Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) has recently announced to support the work on a harmonized EU monograph for Cannabis flowers (Ph. Eur.). For the moment, however, the various national (non-harmonized) monographs (e.g. in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands) still have to be followed for testing and release of cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts for medicinal use.

The amendment (Article in German) was adopted in the final vote on 19 March 2021 (it still has to be enforced).

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