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Senate calls for legalisation of cannabis

Switzerland's senate has followed the lead of the house of representatives and approved proposals from two cantons, Zürich and Basel Country, to decriminalise the consumption and the sale of cannabis.

This content was published on March 7, 2000 - 20:05

Switzerland's senate has followed the lead of the house of representatives and approved proposals from two cantons, Zürich and Basel Country, to decriminalise the consumption and the sale of cannabis.

Representatives from the two cantons proposed putting the sale and distibrution of cannabis under the control of a federal monopoly. The Senate accepted both proposals.

But the president of the senate's health commission, Christine Beerli, stressed that there was no question of a relaxation in the law controlling hard drugs. She said even though eventual state distribution of the drug could not be sanctioned, the goal of the two proposals was to push for a relaxation in the law.

Advocates of a change in the law say that legalising cannabis would make a clear division in the market between hard and soft drugs. They say including cannabis with alcohol and tobacco under soft drugs would make its abuse easier to prevent. It would also be a better use of police resources by reducing the amount of time spent following up cases involving cannabis.

Opponents argue that reform could lead to "cannabis tourism" and they fear the general public could underestimate the potential danger the drug poses.

The government in Berne is currently working on a reform of the law. But a draft of the proposed changes is not expected to be voted on by parliament before next year.

From staff and wire reports

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