Switzerland changes law to decriminalise marijuana possession

Anyone caught with up to 10 grams of the drug will be let off with a CHF
100 (£68) fine and it will not go on their criminal record

A change to the law in Switzerland has decriminalised marijuana, making possession of the drug a minor misdemeanour that will not go on a person’s criminal record.

From the start of this month, anyone found with up to 10 grams of the substance will be able to avoid all formal legal proceedings, instead paying an on-the-spot fine of CHF 100 (around £68).

The relaxation of the law comes after a lengthy process of debate and disagreement in the Swiss parliament, which finally approved the move a year ago.

According to reports in the state-run Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), the government in Switzerland says the move should bring unity to legal practices which until now varied wildly from one local system to another.

It is also expected to save money, avoiding the average of 30,000 cases for smoking marijuana that appear before the courts each year.

Corine Kibora, a spokeswoman for Addiction Switzerland, told SBC: “Police resources should be freed up to pursue drug trafficking.”

The changes are conversely designed to clamp down on cannabis smoking among children.

A report by Unicef into the welfare of children from 29 developed countries found that Switzerland had the second-highest rate of cannabis use amongst those surveyed, behind only Canada.

Around 24 per cent of all children aged 11, 13 and 15 reported having used cannabis in the last 12 months in the country.

And while the revision does not apply to anyone under 18, against whom legal proceedings can still be brought alongside judge-imposed fines, Ms Kibora explained there are new measures in place to better protect them.

Dealers selling to young people will be more strictly punished and children with problematic cannabis use should be able to get expert help more easily, she said.

Not everyone is happy with the change. Opponents say decriminalisation is happening too quickly and at odds with the will of the Swiss public, given the fact that five years ago they voted against a government proposal for legalisation, and four years before that parliament wouldn’t even debate the issue.

Others think that measures could have gone further – Jean-Félix Savary, secretary-general of Grea, a group studying drug addiction in French-speaking Switzerland, told SBC: “It's not a revolution – overall the approach remains hesitant and conservative. Considerable police resources will still be used to ensure this ban is respected.”

Switzerland’s approach to cannabis is considerably more lenient than the UK’s – where it is a Class B drug, possession of which is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. In practice, official written warnings tend to be used for first and second offences.

But it is not the most relaxed in Europe - in 2001 Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalise all drugs, as long as the amount possessed is no more than an estimated 10 days' supply.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
voicesBy the man who has
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?