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Switzerland given "greener" image by Time magazine

Time says cannabis is Switzerland's new growth industry.

(Keystone / Andree-Noelle Pot)

The United States news magazine, "Time", says Switzerland is a haven for cannabis consumers. In its latest issue, Time says "cannabis is on its way to becoming as quintessentially Swiss as the multifunction penknife".

After years of being hammered by the international media over Nazi gold and dormant bank accounts, Switzerland's image appears to be on the road to rehabilitation.

But not everyone will welcome Time's view that cannabis production is joining chocolate, banking and luxury watches as one of Switzerland's more famous industries.

It says "Heidi wouldn't recognise the place", where a cooperative employs 200 people to grow and sell the weed to "the country's burgeoning network of legal hemp shops".

Time says cannabis growers are taking advantage of Switzerland's ambiguous laws governing production and consumption of the drug, which can legally be taken for health reasons.

It says there are now some 300 "hemp" shops across Switzerland - up from a mere 20 in 1997 - and these are supplied by some 250 hectares of fields. It adds that about 600,000 people in Switzerland consume the drug on an occasional or regular basis.

The Swiss government is currently considering proposals to decriminalise cannabis, and parliament is scheduled to debate the issue next year.



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