The Swiss Medical Cannabis Revolution: Dr Francis Scanlan in High Times Interview

The Swiss Medical Cannabis Revolution

Switzerland is at the heart of Europe’s medical marijuana revolution.

Last year, the Swiss Federal Council agreed to remove the “exceptional authorization” requirement for access to medical marijuana as a treatment for medical purposes. As Switzerland gears up for a hugely disruptive recreational trial that’ll impact the future trajectory for medical cannabis use, the albeit small but significant amendments are a welcome change.

In an interview with the High Times, Cloud 9 Switzerland founder Dr Francis Scanlan shared his opinion on the legislation changes and what the future holds. Keep reading to find out what he had to say.

Swiss doctors are given more freedom to prescribe cannabis 

Switzerland plans to make amends to the federal Narcotics Act, which will mean that Swiss physicians will have more freedom when prescribing cannabis to their patients, without having to go through laborious authorization processes. Doctors will be able to prescribe medical cannabis to patients without acquiring special permission from Summer 2022.

Currently, Swiss medical professionals issue over 3000 prescriptions each year to aid patients suffering from painful conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and various neurological diseases.

The amendments will mean cannabis will be classified as a “controlled narcotic”, in the same way as it is across the DACH border with Germany.

Swiss doctors are given more-freedom to prescribe cannabis

The changes will mean the cultivation, manufacturing, and selling of medical cannabis will be authorized on a federal level for the first time in Swiss history. However, there is still some uncertainty surrounding rules for imports and cultivation for personal use remains illegal.

Dr.Francis Scanlan, founder and CEO of Cloud 9 Switzerland, commented on the recent amendments in an interview with the High Times, stating that they were not only a welcomed progression but one that was long overdue. Here’s what Dr.Scanlan had to say:

“This is a very rational, albeit progressive, move in response to the acceptance by the majority of stakeholders in Swiss society that cannabis is a legitimate medicine that truly helps patients while potentially reducing healthcare costs as well as generating tax revenues […] What is happening in Switzerland for prescription medical cannabis and our new recreational Pilot Program is very admirable and should be seen as a pragmatic approach to regulating a far too long stigmatized plant across the world.”

Dr Scanlan

The current state of cannabis legality in Switzerland

As of 2011, the use of cannabis for medical purposes was allowed unders special conditions and cannabis products containing up to 1% THC are legal to consume in Switzerland. This led to a burgeoning market of CBD dried flowers and consumer health products such as CBD oils and cosmetics.

Cloud 9 Switzerland is one of Switzerland’s leading providers of premium hemp products notably VIVA Healthy Hemp Swiss Chocolates. Founded in 2017, Cloud 9 Switzerland is paving the way in product development, manufacturing, and regulatory compliance.

Another huge development took place in May 2021, when the amendment to the narcotics act came into force allowing for the controlled distribution of cannabis for recreational use within the framework of scientific studies known as the Swiss Pilot Program. In May 2021,  the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) started the application process for pilot projects to take place.

The pilot projects are allowed at Cantonal level and will allow the provision of cannabis with up to a 20% THC content and a maximum consumption of 10g THC per month for a maximum of 5000 registered participants. These will be administered at approved points of sale, and the pilot scheme is set to last for 5 (+2) years. In August 2021, Cloud 9 Switzerland was accepted by the FOPH as a supplier of THC containing Chocolate exclusively to the organizers of the pilot studies.

Furthermore, an unexpected surprise came in November 2021 when the Council of States Commission voted 9 to 2 in favor of a plan to change the rules around the sale and use of cannabis. The new law still needs to be written and presented to both the Council of States and Parliament. This development may lead to Switzerland having a regulated market for Cannabis thus undermining the black market with rules for safety and quality control, advertising, tax collection and very importantly the protection of minors.  

State of cannabis legality in Switzerland

What does the future hold for Cannabis?

Attitudes towards cannabis consumption for medical and recreational purposes are changing, and the next few years are bound to see further developments as countries around the world shift towards a regulated legal market.

As mentioned, according to the Social Security and Health Commission of the Council of States, cannabis should be regulated and decriminalized, rather than illegalized, in Switzerland in order to control the cannabis market and protect against harmful consumption.

These attitudes are reflected in public opinion, which largely leans towards favoring the legalization of cannabis in Switzerland. This was reflected in a 2021 survey of 3,166 Swiss adults, of which two-thirds expressed their support for the pilot tests for the legalization of recreational cannabis. Moreover, 70% agreed that it’s important to reform cannabis laws in Switzerland.

Although it’s likely to be a while before we see the legalization of recreational cannabis usage in Switzerland, companies like Cloud 9 Switzerland are focussing themselves in the market of Hemp and CBD consumer health products and laying the foundations for high quality compliant THC products.


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