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Swiss court rules ecstasy dealing not a serious drugs offense

Switzerland's highest court, the Federal Tribunal in Lausanne, ruled Tuesday that dealing in Ecstasy is not a serious offense against narcotics laws.

This content was published on June 15, 1999 - 13:45

Switzerland's highest court, the Federal Tribunal in Lausanne, ruled Tuesday that dealing in Ecstasy is not a serious offense against narcotics laws.

While the illegal hallucinogenic drug "is in no way a harmless substance," it cannot with present knowledge be said to pose a serious risk to physical and mental health," the court explained its ruling.

Ecstasy is mostly used by "socially integrated people" and doesn't generally lead to criminal behavior, the court said. It is closer to soft drugs than hard ones such as cocaine and heroin, it added.

The tribunal overturned a ruling by a state court in Berne, which sentenced a man to more than a year in prison for selling 1,000 Ecstasy tablets. And it rejected a plea from the canton of Aargau for a stiffer sentence against a man sentenced to nine months in jail for selling more than 1,300 tablets.

Under Swiss law, serious drugs offenses -- including endangering someone's life or professional dealing -- carry a jail sentence ranging from one to 20 years.

The court ruling means that dealing in Ecstasy remains illegal, as does the drug itself, but punishment will only be mild.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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