On 26 June 2019, the Federal Council assigned the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to conduct a consultation procedure on the amendment of the Federal Narcotics Act (NarcA), which will last until 17 October 2019. The planned amendment to the NarcA aims to facilitate and expand the handling of medicinal cannabis that is exempt from a special approval of the Federal Office of Public Health. In particular, the traffic ban on cannabis narcotics for medicinal purposes is to be lifted, which should lead to limited tradability.
This offers new opportunities for the fast-growing cannabis industry in Switzerland and could fundamentally change the business model of many companies operating primarily in the CBD (cannabidiol) sector. Would it make sense, for example, to focus production on medicinal cannabis? Forward-thinking companies in the cannabis value chain who want to prepare themselves for a changed regulatory environment are well advised to reflect on at least ten questions should the new proposals be adopted into law:
1. To what extent does cannabis stay prohibited for non-medical use and, if so, what are the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance of the cannabis plant) thresholds?
2. Who is authorised to prescribe medicinal cannabis and under what conditions? Will exemption permits still be required for the use of medicinal cannabis (case-by-case examination)? Who will be responsible for prescription and treatment?
3. Is the prescription of medicinal cannabis products exempt from the tobacco tax duty?
4. Is the production of medicinal cannabis with a THC content of more than 1 per cent also subject to approval?
5. Who would be responsible for such an approval? How will production be monitored and which standards must be observed?
6. Does the approval of the proposal for a restricted tradability of medicinal cannabis also open up access to the export market?
7. What export regulations are applicable and what must be taken into consideration?
8. What are the other plans of the Federal Office of Public Health regarding the assessment of whether medicinal cannabis can be included in the list of specialities or in the list of medicinal products with tariff in order to enable reimbursement by compulsory health insurance?
9. Does the proposal include a restriction on the delivery methods and preparation of cannabis? What has to be taken into account in terms of therapeutic products law for a cannabis product to be recognised as a medicinal cannabis product?
10. To what extent will the law on varieties and seeds be adapted to facilitate the distribution of seeds and planting stock of cannabis for medicinal purposes to farmers?
The planned liberalisation has not yet been carved in stone and raises a number of other questions, so that this catalogue cannot be regarded as exhaustive. The detailed clarification of these questions is only expected with the amendment of the respective ordinances.