Switzerland Decriminalizes Cannabis Possession
And yet another marijuana prohibition law suffers a blow from the might that is scientific research and social research! As of the 1st of October, possession of small amount of cannabis was decriminalized in Switzerland.
Whilst this in not the full removal of prohibition within the country, it is a step in the right direction - breeding more tolerance within the local populace. With the new laws that are in place, anyone found with 10 grams or less of cannabis will not have to worry about facing court proceeding. Instead they will face an on the spot fine of 100 Swiss Francs (around 81 euros), and then be allowed to go on their way – this will also not be entered onto their criminal record, allowing them to get on with their lives unhindered.
We should be clear on just what decriminalization actually means. It is by no means legal (yet). The consumption, cultivation and possession is still illegal, but small amounts of possession is now viewed with a tolerance, it makes help by those wishing for it much more accessible without fear of persecution or prosecution.
The move is aimed at Swiss children, with a recent 2013 study by UNICEF showing that more than 24% of children in Switzerland aged 11, 13 or 15 having smoked weed in the last year. This is the second highest rate in the world. With the decriminalization of weed, children should be able to access help easily without any long term ramifications that would have otherwise haunted them for the rest of their lives. Laws have also been made much stricter for anyone found selling to those under the age of 18, further dissuading use by minors. Why sell to minors when you can get away with selling to adults with minimal risk?
Whilst we love cannabis culture, smoking is never a good thing for children in any form. Children using cannabis is a bad move – they are not old enough to make fully informed decisions about its use, often bending to peer pressure. This is an extremely sensible move by the Swiss government, it will help their youth become more informed about weed culture without having to fear harsh consequences – as we know, harsh punitive deterrents for this kind of thing does not work; you need a culture of acceptance for knowledge and understanding to really grow. It will lead to a much more objective view of the drug, likely resulting in reduced use my minors, (much in the same way very few minors use here in the Netherlands), whilst allowing consenting adults to discreetly, and quite rightly, smoke at their leisure.
The move to decriminalize cannabis in Switzerland will also go some way to save the government and taxpayers money, with it thought that the move will reduce the amount of court cases by about 30,000 – meaning less needs to be spent prosecuting those found in possession of marijuana.
Whatever their reasoning, this is great news for the cannabis community, and a step forward in the war to end prohibition. Well played Switzerland!