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Illegal drugs to be given on prescription

Changes to the law on drugs coming into force on July 1 will make it possible to use illegal drugs such as cannabis for medical purposes.

While the sale of cannabis will remain illegal, it will be possible to register for cannabis-based medicine or other banned substances such as heroin. Cannabis will be classified as a narcotic if it contains more than one per cent of the chemical substance tetrahydrocannabinol.

The legal basis for prescribing heroin has already been enforced since January 2010 by provisional rulings. Under planned safeguards to prevent abuse it will only be available to drug addicts who have no other options for treatment.    

As of 2012, children or teenagers with associated disorders or suspected addicts will also be referred to social services. 

The Swiss cabinet agreed on Wednesday that revisions to the law would come into force in the summer. 

It includes tougher sentencing for anyone convicted of selling drugs to children and teenagers, particularly around schools.

Changes to the law were backed in a nationwide vote in November 2008. They arose out of a new drugs strategy based on prevention, harm reduction, therapy and repression. It was devised in response to the open drugs scene in Zurich and other Swiss cities during the 1990s. and agencies


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