Posted on January 24 2019
Imagine Swiss chocolates—decadent, well-made, internationally recognized. What if you found out that another Swiss product is on the rise?
Cannabis in Switzerland
It all started in 2011 when the Swiss government allowed adults to buy and use cannabidiol products with up to 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound extracted from the famous herb from where it gets its name. THC is another compound present in the plant that is primarily responsible for its hallucinogenic effects. With a maximum limit of 1%, the danger associated with its psychoactive nature is reduced—leaving you with a pleasant high similar to downing a few glasses of wine.
What makes this so exciting is the potential of CBD when paired with Swiss ingenuity and quality control. Both investors in cannabis business, customers, and government are standing up and taking notice. This due in large part to enthusiasts who have lobbied for its legalization, citing scientific studies that point to its medical benefits.
Understanding the demand
A wide body of literature has shown its effectivity of the compound in reducing anxiety and depression. This is particularly true for those who have psychological disorders—and unlike pharmaceutical products targeting the same symptoms, these are herbal and natural. Side effects associated with typical psychiatric medicines include insomnia, lowered libido, headaches, among others. Products derived from CBD are not known to cause any long-term side effects.
Europe is slowly but surely getting into the trend— the Netherlands being at the forefront, allowing public sale of hemp-based products in cafes and coffee shops. In Germany, it is possible to purchase cannabidiol and related items for medical use.
Potential as a business
The economic benefits of allowing an extremely in-demand substance into the market are not lost on Swiss businesses. Those who entered the cannabidiol industry when the law had just been passed are now reaping the benefits—so much so that they need four times more workforce than they started with eight years ago. The industry itself is growing with more than 400 registered retailers and over 200 waiting in line.
The Swiss government benefits handsomely from the passage of the law, with sizeable tax revenue coming from sales. Another bill is in a process that allows for scientific studies to future base policies on—this includes opening pilot projects in selected cities where people can legally purchase cannabis in a coffee-shop set-up. This indicates an interest in the further opening to door to CBD-derived products.
The primary concern is how to implement regulations correctly for quality control. They have already thought ahead of the usual predilections at legalizing cannabidiol—by setting a cap of 1% on THC levels, the intoxicating effects are minimized. Other issues arise, however—for example, on the question if growing should become legal without restriction, the excessive use of pesticides is a potential issue, as in any agricultural product. There is also the diversity of users to consider when making policies on consumption. This is a function of its benefits—from twenty-year-old suffering from anxiety to an 88-year old Alzheimer's patient, many can benefit from hemp-derived products.
While we need to wait and see to what extent Switzerland will allow the industry to proliferate, the interests of both government, businesses, and customers are piqued.
How is Swiss ingenuity changing the cannabis business?
The Swiss are famous for their creativity and high-quality standards, and this is one industry where they continue that legacy. Given the restrictions of the law, they do not focus on recreational use that depends on high THC levels. This is a good thing, because cities who fully legalize the herb, such as Amsterdam, have already taken the lead in that market. Instead, the Swiss focus on the benefits of CBD, not THC.
With state-of-the-art technology to extract the compound from the plant, they have created a whole range of products that offer a high level of CBD. They use flowers as a tobacco substitute, create CBD oils, tinctures and concentrates. These raw materials are used to make innovative products—from massage oil to pasta, vaporizers to shampoo, cookies to body lotions. And with the Swiss minimalistic aesthetic and international renown, you can be sure these are not only produced well but marketed well too.
If you want a full appreciation of the diversity of products available, trade fairs are showcasing exclusively CBD-derived items held in Switzerland. That's something fun to do aside from visiting the Alps!
“High” hopes for the Swiss cannabis business
Increasingly positive perception of hemp-derived products, business, and government interest, a reputation for ingenious product development and world-class quality control, these reasons suggest that cannabis business in Switzerland is here to stay.