Bern, 25.08.2021 – At its meeting on August 25, 2021, the Federal Council opened the consultation on the implementation of the amendment to the Narcotics Act (BetmG) passed by Parliament. The amendment is intended to facilitate access to treatments with therapeutic cannabis. In the future, a prescription will no longer require the granting of an exceptional authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Cannabis for consumption purposes, on the other hand, will continue to be prohibited.
The amendment to the law passed by Parliament on March 19, 2021, will make it easier for thousands of patients to access medical cannabis as part of their treatment. This primarily affects cases of cancer or multiple sclerosis, where cannabis can alleviate chronic pain.
The implementing ordinance sent by the Federal Council for consultation specifies the conditions for lifting the ban on trade in therapeutic cannabis and transfers supervisory responsibility from the FOPH to Swissmedic. Medical cannabis is thus removed from the list of prohibited narcotics and included in the list of controlled narcotics. Cannabis for recreational purposes, on the other hand, will continue to be prohibited.
In order to follow the development of the use of medical cannabis and to deepen the knowledge about its effectiveness, data will be systematically collected for a limited period of time, while respecting data protection. The treating physicians will thus be obliged to provide the FOPH with data on treatments involving the use of medicinal cannabis. These data will serve, on the one hand, as a basis for the scientific evaluation of the measures of this revision and, on the other hand, as a reference for the cantonal medical and cantonal pharmacy offices, for clinical research and for prescribing physicians.
Since the data collection is done online and standardized via a data collection system provided by the FOPH, the overall administrative burden for the physicians concerned should be reduced. In addition, the physicians providing treatment can use the information system provided to access information that can help them in the treatment of their patients.
The cultivation, processing and marketing of medicinal cannabis will thus be possible within the framework of the authorization and control system ensured by Swissmedic. A two-tier authorization system is envisaged for cultivation, consisting of a business license and individual licenses for cultivation.
The reimbursement of cannabis-based treatments by the compulsory health insurance will be examined separately.