Switzerland: lifting of the ban on medical cannabis on August 1

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The Swiss government announced on June 22 that it would lift the ban on medical cannabis, in accordance with an amendment to the Swiss narcotics law that Parliament approved in March 2021. The Swiss government thus intends to “facilitate access cannabis for medical use for patients. »

“The decision to use a cannabis-based drug for therapeutic purposes will be up to the doctor, in consultation with the patient,” the government said of this amendment. From August 1, patients will no longer be required to obtain authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP).

In Switzerland, medical cannabis is only authorized for patients who have the agreement of a doctor or who previously had to obtain authorization from the FOPH. Currently, only Sativex is approved for prescription to patients without exceptional authorization from the FOPH. For any other magistral preparation or medicinal product based on cannabis not subject to authorization, an exceptional authorization from the FOPH was mandatory and only in justified cases.

The country’s public-law federal institution, Swissmedic, which is responsible for both the “authorization and monitoring of therapeutic products”, including cocaine, methadone and morphine, could be tasked with managing the industry. cannabis in the future.

In 2019, the FOPH issued approximately 3,000 authorizations to patients suffering from a wide variety of cannabis-related medical problems. However, the FOPH described this process as “tedious administrative procedures”. “Sick people must be able to access these medicines without excessive bureaucracy,” the Office said.

Since then, 3,000 authorizations of this type have been issued each year, rendering the “exceptional” nature of these authorizations obsolete.

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