PARIS, May 31 (RAPSI) – Criminal punishment for the users of small amounts of cannabis will be replaced with a fine of 100 Swiss Francs ($104) on Oct. 1, the Swiss government said in a statement on Friday. The decision does not apply to minors.
The Swiss parliament approved a fine for smoking cannabis on Sept. 28, 2012. The bill’s authors argued that it would be pragmatic because between 350,000 and 500,000 people smoke cannabis occasionally or regularly in Switzerland.
The MPs decided that using police to try to catch offenders would be too expensive and ineffective and decided to focus on drug trafficking instead. Moreover, judges annually hear up to 30,000 cases of cannabis smoking.
One more argument for the decision was the standardization of legislation at the federal level because earlier different cantons had different legislation.
For example, Neuchathel and St. Gallen have long decriminalized cannabis and introduced a minor fine for using it, while perpetrators in Ticino face criminal proceedings and fines of up to Swiss Francs 3,000.
However, opponents of the move insisted that the decision was another step toward the gradual legalization of drugs, against which 63% of the Swiss rejected the government proposal to legalize the possession, consumption and controlled trade in cannabis in 2008.
The decision’s opponents also feared that the fine would “give the wrong message” and even encourage young cannabis consumers.