By Phillip Smith
As of this week, the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in Switzerland. Instead, the Swiss have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of weed, replacing possible jail time and a criminal record with a maximum fine of $110. The new law went into effect Tuesday.
The change in the Swiss drug law brings the country in line with other European countries that have either formally or effectively decriminalized pot possession. It also brings uniformity within Switzerland, where previously, some cantons had turned a blind eye to marijuana offenses while others came down hard on offenders.
The change will also relieve pressure on Swiss police and courts. The country has dealt with 30,000 or so marijuana charges each year, a number that should decline dramatically under the new law.
Cultivation and distribution of marijuana remain criminal offenses, as does possession of more than 10 grams. The new law also increases penalties for sale to minors.
The country of some eight million people is thought to have up to 500,000 pot smokers.