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Attitudes regarding cannabis legislation and regulation in Switzerland

Population survey carried out by the Federal Office of Public Health

Swiss cannabis law is both simple and complex. On the one hand, cannabis has been a banned substance since 1951, on the other hand, it has never been possible to fully enforce this ban in practice. The number of regular users is estimated at more than 220000, and a third of the population has already experimented with cannabis. The black market remains flourishing and consumers, who usually do not know the quality of products, are both poorly protected and difficult to reach for prevention measures.

In Switzerland too, the debate has recently gained momentum. A new era in cannabis policy began in the fall of 2020, when Parliament adopted the experimentation article on pilot trials with limited time and accompanied scientific studies, with legal release of cannabis for non-medical purposes.

The expected results of these pilot tests will make it possible to study solutions to the aforementioned problems, and will also be used to examine many questions related to health, consumption and purchasing behavior, as well as the effects of a distribution. regulated cannabis on public order and safety.

The survey carried out on behalf of the Federal Office of Public Health

This report on the investigation carried out by Sotomo on behalf of the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) fits into this context. This representative survey of the population aimed to find out the attitude of the Swiss electorate upstream of the pilot tests and to examine questions related to the acceptance of such tests, the legal approach to be favored, the concrete regulatory measures to be taken. foresee in eight areas, as well as a possible legalization of cannabis. Data collection took place between the end of January and the beginning of April 2021. The population examined in the framework of the survey included the Swiss electorate, that is to say the elderly of 18 years old, possessing Swiss nationality and residing in a Swiss municipality. The initial sample consisted of 7955 individuals, whose postal address had been drawn at random from the sample frame of the Federal Statistical Office.

A online version was combined with a paper version. The questionnaire underwent a two-step preliminary review to ensure that the desired results were obtained. As the random sample was stratified by linguistic region with an over-representation of Latin Switzerland compared to German-speaking Switzerland, a statistical weighting was used to correct this oversampling. After purification and control, 3166 responses could be used for statistical analysis purposes, ie a participation rate of 39,8%.

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A clear majority of 70% of those polled find it important that cannabis legislation be changed in Switzerland

Generations that have already experienced many debates on drug policy are particularly favorable to it.

Pilot test and location : two-thirds of those questioned subscribe to future pilot trials on the controlled delivery of cannabis for recreational use. Urban areas and especially the places where such projects are envisaged stand out with even higher support than in other regions of Switzerland.

Support for legalization : one in three people say they are clearly in favor of the legalization of cannabis with effective health protection, and one in three rather in favor. Just under 30% of those polled oppose the legalization of recreational cannabis. Effective health protection: in the event of cannabis legalization, effective health protection is required. The priority must be to strengthen the protection of young people, and then it is a question of developing prevention and limiting the THC content of legal cannabis products.

This unsatisfactory situation has long been the source of political confrontations and not only in Switzerland. Following the publication of new recommendations and a reassessment of the situation by the WHO and the UN, a growing number of countries began around ten years ago to legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Since 2013, several US federal states and various countries including Canada, Uruguay and South Africa have lifted the ban on recreational cannabis (with different regulations). In Europe, the use of this substance is the subject of very different rules from one country to another, but often gives rise to heated discussions in political life as in public opinion.

For or against legalization?

Containment of the black market and improved safety for consumers are the arguments most often cited in responses in favor of legalizing cannabis. The main objections raised against legalization are as follows: cannabis is dangerous for the brains of young people and legalization makes drugs commonplace.

Cannabis legalization could bring together a majority in almost all groups in society

  1. Men are even more in favor of it than women.
  2. The farther left a person is on the political spectrum, the more they will support legalization.
  3. People from rural areas are more skeptical about this.
  4. The experience we have with this substance and the way we classify it on the dangerousness scale are very important.
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Anyone who has never experienced cannabis or finds it very dangerous will tend to refuse legalization. Finally, the existence of a fundamental belief also plays a major role, because those who want to fight drugs mainly through prohibition and abstinence are against legalization.

Multidimensional regulation of cannabis

Legal status of cannabis : People polled much prefer legal status to the status quo or even more severe repression. This result confirms and confirms the results of a previous survey carried out in 2018. Call for strict regulation: strict regulation is required with regard to points of sale and taxation. In addition, half of those polled advocate a ban on advertising in favor of cannabis products, as well as zero tolerance at the wheel. Opinions differ, however, on the places of production and consumption as well as on quality requirements.

Adult only smoke : a clear majority of over 60% advocates setting the minimum legal age for consuming cannabis at 18 years, and a small minority of 14% would allow legal consumption from 16 years old.

Specialty shops with advice to customers: cannabis must only be sold in pharmacies or in specialized shops, or in points of sale with qualified personnel. This is the conviction of more than 60% of those polled.

In case of authorization, heavy taxes are needed: no one denies that legal cannabis products should be heavily taxed; four out of five participants agree.

Zero tolerance at the wheel? only half of the population advocates zero tolerance for cannabis while driving, and more than 40% of people are calling for regulations with a limit value for THC. The majority of women are in favor of zero tolerance, and men at a cut-off point.

Dangerous substances : opinions are very different on the respective dangerousness of cannabis and alcohol. But alcohol is generally considered to be more dangerous than cannabis. Age, having children and gender influence the opinion on dangerousness: young people consider cannabis less dangerous than older people, men consider cannabis or alcohol as less dangerous than women , and people with children fear cannabis more than others.

En conclusion, the experience leads to a different view of the dangerousness: the personal experience of cannabis directly influences the appreciation in this matter. A person who has never used cannabis will tend to consider it dangerous, while someone who uses it regularly will consider it rather harmless. Anyone who sees cannabis as very dangerous will lean for a repressive approach or for the status quo. Conversely, people who consider cannabis harmless will want to legalize this substance and apply the same rules as alcohol.

Tags : LawsurveystatisticalSwiss
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Media broadcaster and communications manager specializing in legal cannabis. Do you know what they say? knowledge is power. Understand the science behind cannabis medicine, while staying up to date with the latest health related research, treatments and products. Stay up to date with the latest news and ideas on legalization, laws, political movements. Discover tips, tricks and how-to guides from the most seasoned growers on the planet, including the latest research and findings from the scientific community on the medical qualities of cannabis.