Legal issues

The legality of cannabis for general or recreational use


Cannabis or products made from cannabis which have an average total THC-concentration of at least 1% are prohibited in accordance with the Controlled Substances Act (BetmVV-EDI). However, there are various THC-deficient cannabis products which are not prohibited by the Controlled Substances Act as they contain a THC-concentration of less than 1%. These include raw materials such as hemp buds or powder, processed products such as extracts in the form of oils or pastes, capsules sold in bulk, and ready-to-use products such as diet supplements, liquids for e-cigarettes, tobacco substitutes, aromatic oils, chewing gum, and ointments which are sold partially as care products.

The production and sale of THC-deficient cannabis products has increased significantly recently, raising various health and legal issues. Even if these products do not fall under the Controlled Substances Act, they cannot be distributed and advertised at one’s discretion. Either the Therapeutic Products Act, Food Act, or the Federal law on food safety is applied to the products industrial use depending on the product category. In order to raise awareness for the legal framework conditions, Swissmedic, the Federal Office of Public Health, the Federal Office of Food Safety and Veterinary Medicine and the Federal Office of Agriculture have compiled a leaflet.


Over 80 cannabinoids and over 400 other active ingredients are found in hemp plants. The most important cannabinoids are the inebriating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-inebriating cannabidiol (CBD) that also reduces the psychotropic effects of THC. CBD is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.

Amongst the THC-deficient cannabis products it is those with a high CBD-concentration which are significant. Supply is growing rapidly and the demand is increasing. The potential therapeutic effects including anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive, anxiolytic or anti-psychotic effects are currently being discussed. The medicinal effect of CBD, however, is currently still insufficiently researched (in comparison to the > medicinal use of cannabis containing THC).

Experts are also discussing whether cannabis with a high amount of CBD and less than 1% THC-concentration can be used in harm reduction or for treating problematic cannabis consumption.

Source: Federal Office of Public Health