by Ryan Grenoble
As of Oct. 1, possession of marijuana is decriminalized in Switzerland.
Anyone over the age of 18 caught with 10 grams or less of the drug will no longer have to make a court appearance and will not have offenses entered into their permanent record; instead, violators will have to pay a fine of 100 Swiss Francs (approximately $110), then be on their way.
Lawmakers in the country relaxed weed regulations in an effort to unify what had been a patchwork of often confusing policies that varied from one local area to another. Per The Independent, the measure is also expected to save money by cutting back on the 30,000 marijuana-related cases courts have had to handle each year. It will also free up police resources to pursue larger drug trafficking incidents.
But “decriminalized” is not the same as “legal,” as a Swiss Broadcasting Corporation report makes clear. Growing marijuana plants, imbibing the drug in any form and dealing it are still forbidden.
Penalties are now stricter for anyone caught selling to a person under the age of 18. The new law also provides greater resources to help children with marijuana habits. A 2013 UNICEF report found Swiss children are the world’s second-most likely to smoke marijuana, with just over 24 percent of 11, 13 and 15-year-olds having smoked pot in the last year.
For perspective, Canada leads the world in kids’ marijuana use, with 28 percent of its children aged 11, 13, and 15 admitting to smoking pot in the past 12 months.