Regulatory chaos in the cannabis industry

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Anyone wishing to enter the trade and production of cannabis products in Switzerland must first take an in-depth look at the applicable legal basis. This is a very laborious exercise, as one is faced with a large and confusing collection of laws that affect and regulate various aspects of economic activity in different cases.

When talking about legal regulation, most people think primarily of the 1% THC rule. The fact that there are a lot of other regulations that the legal cannabis industry has to follow is forgotten. For example, certain rules apply to tobacco substitutes, other rules apply to medicines, and still others relate to cosmetics. Further, cannabis products can also be classified as agricultural products, narcotics, commodities, food, or chemicals, with a different set of rules taking effect for each classification as well.

This fragmented legislation becomes a particular problem when it is unclear to which category a product should be attributed. CBD oils, for example, are generally considered chemicals, which must be accompanied by a whole range of warning labels for legal sale. This well aware that these oils are usually consumed. Alternatively, these oils could also be sold as food supplements – but only if they are approved by the EU as “novel foods.” However, these applications have been pending for a long time, and their processing has been suspended in the meantime. It was not until the ECJ ruling on November 19, 2020, that CBD was not an addictive substance that the submitted applications continued to be processed. Since this process usually takes at least 15 months from application to approval, it is likely that there will be a longer wait for this approval (or non-approval).

If one considers these conditions, it is obvious from our point of view that the legislation must be adapted. Such an adjustment could then also immediately take into account current developments with regard to the social status of the hemp plant, medical findings and the experience gained by other states. Therefore, as a company in the cannabis industry, we are very happy that things are moving at the moment. In addition to the increased occurrence of a social discussion, there are also some political initiatives: the parliamentary initiative of Heinz Siegenthaler, the“Postulate Minder“, the pilot tests with cannabis and the changes in the Cannabis Medicinal Products Act.

– Current legal situation in Switzerland: Lino Cereghetti at the members’ meeting of IG Hemp
– EU approval of CBD products as “Novel Food”: ernä