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High income Legal marijuana could earn millions for Swiss state

A salesman shows a legal cannabis plant with less than 1% THC at his Lausanne shop

(Keystone)

Some 130 firms have registered with the Swiss federal authorities to sell legal pot that could generate CHF30 million ($30.2 million) in annual revenue for the state, it has been reported. 

Legal cannabis has become a flourishing business in Switzerland in recent months. Switzerland changed its laws in 2011 to let adults buy and use cannabis with up to 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the active ingredient that gets smokers high. It is used alongside another active ingredient, cannabidiol (CBD), in a growing range of cannabis-related products, from cosmetics to drinks. 

So far, 130 retailers of legal cannabis have registered with the Federal Customs Administration to be taxed as tobacco producers, the Berner Zeitung reported on Tuesday. It added that Swiss customs officials were in contact with 250 other potential producers.

The customs administration confirmed to the paper that annual sales of legal pot in Switzerland amount to CHF100 million.

This boom in legal cannabis should benefit the federal coffers, as it is subject to a 25% tax and VAT levy, which should generate CHF30 million a year in tax revenue for the state.

The customs office will reportedly start publishing legal cannabis statistics at the start of next year.

Observers suspect the recent boom in legal marijuana to be linked to a customs office campaign to collect the tax, and for companies to get their papers in order.

Several states have explored changing the rules to reduce penalties for possession of marijuana or permit strains low in THC. But the Swiss were among the first to make recreational low-potency pot fully legal and tax it. 

In Switzerland as soon as the THC value rises above 1%, cannabis falls under the Narcotic Drugs Act. In addition, such cannabis may only be planted with special permission for research and for very limited medical use. Under a 2013 law, like a simple traffic offence, anyone over 18 caught in possession of up to ten grams of illegal cannabis will receive a CHF100 ($110) fine and the offence will not show up on their criminal record.

swissinfo.ch/sb

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