Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Switzerland neither issues medical marijuana cards, nor does it have an established program. However, in 2008, the Swiss Parliament amended their Federal Law on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances to allow physicians to apply to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) for exemptions for qualified patients. Although this system is not as open as some nations’ programs, it does allow certain patients to receive cannabis meds.
Besides that, doctors can also prescribe the sublingual spray Sativex and German-manufactured dronabinol, which is a synthetic form of THC. Additionally, CBD products with less than 1% THC contents are legal within the country.
Black market marijuana is not hard to come by in Switzerland. Since it’s decriminalized — with a fine as the penalty if caught with marijuana in your possession — many citizens prefer to purchase their cannabis illegally. However, if it’s obtained unlawfully, marijuana has not undergone the safety protocol to ensure it’s safe for use. So, it could be of substandard quality or have dangerous impurities.
Although it’s not necessarily a straightforward process to obtain a prescription for marijuana-based meds or an exemption for cannabis from the FOPH, these products are safe, laboratory-tested and effective. Patients don’t have to worry about quality, as these medications meet the highest standards. They also won’t have to be concerned about any legal repercussions. Plus, a doctor can closely monitor a patient’s reaction to the meds and adjust dosage and ingestion methods as needed.
Obtaining CBD products is quite simple in Switzerland. In fact, it’s as easy as visiting a local tobacco retailer or even a supermarket. There are a variety of CBD products on the market, from edibles to cigarettes.
However, if you wish to get a prescription for cannabis-based medication or actual medical marijuana, you must visit a Swiss physician. They will assess your condition and determine if these types of meds are the appropriate course of action. If so, then they can write you a prescription for dronabinol or Sativex. For cannabis, however, they will have to apply to the FOPH on your behalf and await approval for a special exemption license.
If a patient wishes to refill their Sativex or dronabinol prescription, this can be done by visiting their physician and discussing with them whether this is the correct course of action. For more cannabis medications, however, updating a prescription requires a license extension. So, the doctor will have to reapply with the FOPH, which could take some time.
Whether a physician wishes to prescribe Sativex, dronabinol or apply for a cannabis exemption for their patient, they must be a domestic doctor registered with the Federal Office of Public Health. Other than that, there are no unique criteria a physician must have to prescribe medical marijuana or cannabis-based meds in Switzerland.
Although Switzerland does not have a medical marijuana program, per se, the applications for cannabis medications are overseen by the Federal Office of Public Health. If you would like more information about which products qualify as CBD products, check out the FOPH’s overview and implementation guide.
As medical marijuana policies change in Switzerland and around the world, stay connected with MarijuanaDoctors.com. We update our international cannabis news to reflect the current status of marijuana laws in different nations. Before traveling abroad, be sure to check out that country’s attitude toward medical marijuana.
We also have a handy resource guide, which provides tons of useful information about many different medicinal cannabis topics.