Switzerland’s seven-member Federal Council has presented Parliament with an amendment to the country’s Narcotics Act to remove the ban on medical cannabis, effectively opening the door to a wider addressable market.
Additionally, a special permit from the Federal Office of Public Health will no longer be required, and patients will be able to get a normal prescription from their doctor.
The government said demand for such permits has been increasing, adding an unnecessary administrative burden for the government and ultimately delaying treatment.
Adaptations to the Narcotics Control Ordinance (BetmKV) and the Narcotics List Ordinance (BetmVV-EDI) will be necessary for the implementation of the change in the law, according to the Federal Office of Public Health.
The government anticipates the change in the law will take effect Aug. 1.
Susanne Caspar, CEO of Riazzino, Switzerland-based Linnea SA, said there will be a positive impact for both businesses and patients.
“For businesses like ours, we can now expand our cannabinoids product line and use our existing 40 years of expertise to create standardized, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis ingredients for patients,” she said.
The government said people who suffer from severe chronic pain and spasticity could benefit from the updated rules.
“This will benefit many people suffering from conditions like chronic pain, who have been asking their doctors for this exact type of medicine,” Caspar said.
“Cannabis will now be brought into the pharmaceutical system in Switzerland, so it will now be controlled like all the other narcotics by the health authority Swiss Medic.
“This is positive, because now the established narcotics route will be followed as well for cannabis. This will create high-quality and accessible cannabis products for consumers.”
Authority to regulate the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will fall on the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, or Swissmedic.
However, the legal amendment will not have an effect on the reimbursement of medical cannabis products through the nation’s health insurance.
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The government said medical cannabis is only reimbursed in exceptional cases, since the available evidence on effectiveness is “currently insufficient for general reimbursement.”
The sale and consumption of cannabis for nonmedical purposes will remain prohibited.
Matt Lamers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.