Marijuana legislation moved forward once more when, as of Oct. 1, Switzerland decriminalized the possession of marijuana. Though the restrictions on the drug still remain harsh, this progressive movement will not only ease the burden on the thinly-spread legal systems, but will also create a safer and more accessible environment for people who use marijuana.
With the new law, those over 18 found to have less than 10 grams of marijuana are relieved of the previously mandated court appearances, and most critically, will not have their offenses added to their permanent record. Those caught, however, will still need to pay a penalty fine of 100 Swiss francs, the equivalent of about $110 dollars.
Much like current U.S. policy, Swiss marijuana regulation had been scattered across the map, pieced together with confusing policies and contradicting laws. The new and more tolerant regulations are intended to unify the fragmented perception of the drug culture.
The measure is expected to reduce the 30,000 marijuana-related cases per year that the courts have had to handle, thus freeing up valuable police resources for more serious incidents. The law provides educational resources for children with severe marijuana habits as well as well as looks to increase restrictions on those selling to minors.
It is important to note, however, that "decriminalized" is not the same as "legal." Marijuana farming, growth, smoking or dealing in any manner is still strictly illegal.
With the second highest rate of children using marijuana (second only to Canada), the Swiss government is hoping to find that their lengthy process of debate in Parliament will culminate in accurate and effective legislation.