Since 2016, cannabis light, strong in CBD and less than 1% THC, is marketed in Switzerland where it is considered a substitute for tobacco. The available data show that its consumption is exploding but the industry is also facing problems of overproduction.
A booming industry
In Switzerland, cannabis light is available everywhere, in specialty stores such as grocery stores or supermarkets. According to figures from the Federal Office of Public Health reported by SonntagsZeitung, the tax revenues earned from this trade increased from 400,000 Swiss francs three years ago to 15.1 million Swiss last year. These data show that more than six tons of CBD flowers have been taxed and by extension consumed. It's a record.
According to a survey by Sucht Schweiz, out of 1,500 users, the majority of flower consumers are young cannabis users looking to reduce their THC consumption. However, in other forms, CBD is also very popular among seniors . "Current consumers are assessing the effects of CBD very positively, particularly in terms of sleep, stress and overall well-being," say the polls.
According to the organization Addiction Switzerland, 80% of consumers buy CBD in the form of flowers. That said, it has also become a common ingredient in consumer products.
"Our main customers are pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies," says Patrick Widmer, co-founder of Medropharm , a company that grows Swiss hemp. "We have increased our production area by 10 times this year," he adds.
This consumption boom is leading to a significant increase in agricultural areas dedicated to growing hemp. Since 2015, they have increased by six times. As of January 2017, there were only five producers in Bern. They are today 672. This increase in production would have been a little too fast compared to that of consumption and dropped prices: the kilode CBD is now trading around 1500 per kilo against nearly 6000 in 2017.
With regard to cannabis with THC levels above 1%, the possession of small quantities has been decriminalized since 2013. Below 10 grams, possession of cannabis only entails a fine of 100 Swiss. For some time now, the government has been considering pilot testing for the legalization of recreational cannabis in some cities of the country, but the project is stagnating.