JAN. 21, 1999 - BRIEF HISTORY OF RECENT HEMP CULTIVATION IN SWITZERLAND
In March 1995, a decision about cultivation of cannabis was issued by the Swiss Federal Offices of Public Health, Police and Agriculture in order to satisfy the growing interest of farmers and other people in hemp farming. It pointed out that 1)... each hemp plant contains THC and must be therefore considered a drug, 2)... no permission is required for those who grow hemp without the intention to produce drugs ... meaning that the choice of the plant variety was not restricted to those which are characterized by a low THC concentration and grown in a few countries belonging to the European Union. Claiming that natural hemp must contain significant amounts of THC and thanks to the Swiss legislation, areas dedicated to hemp cultivation develop considerably. Most hemp plants which are submitted to our laboratories by the police for THC quantification belong to the drug-type. Nowadays, a great deal of goods (food and beverages, cosmetics, drugs) made of hemp are marketed in Switzerland. Strong suspicions exist however that several of these products could be used as a screen for the illegal market of cannabis. For instance, despite financial support from the state, fiber hemp cultivation remains unsuccessful. No advantage with regard to seed productivity, edible seed and essential oils qualities and yields have been found for drug hemp over fiber hemp by agricultural research stations up to now. Several clues about the possible illicit use of hemp goods rich in THC, especially hemp tea made of flower tops and "therapeutic" pillows filled with cannabis exist. Recently, two Federal edits were issued in order to restrict the selling of hemp seedlings and of hemp foods and beverages to those containing only low amounts of THC. However, the marketing of hemp plants used for decorating remains free partly explaining the recent success of these "beautiful" plants. Broadly speaking, the Swiss and European legislations about hemp have approached mutually during the last years.
Institut Universitaire de Médecine Légale, Lausanne. Christian.Giroud@inst.hospvd.ch, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov 21 January 1999