I’ve spoken to many women who are reluctant to use cannabis, and the reason why is because they’ve used it before and don’t like the way it makes them feel. I hear it all the time and not just from women, men also who’ve had a bad experience and are now reluctant to ever try it again.
However there’s usually a simple reason why it didn’t feel good, it mostly comes down to not using cannabis properly. It’s not your fault, cannabis has been demonized for so long that it was difficult to find good information about how to take cannabis.
It doesn’t help that the Canadian government limits what cannabis stores and producers can say about cannabis and one of those things is dose.
This is why I created Weed Mama, to make that information easy to understand and accessible for all, so you can enjoy the wonderful, healing properties of this natural botanical.
Here are the 3 reasons why you tried cannabis and didn’t like the way it made you feel.
Reason one: Maybe cannabis just isn’t right for you
Cannabis is a plant, some of you will be allergic to it, or your brain simply can’t handle any THC. There’s some people who can take a massive doses of THC and barely feel it, other people can’t handle even a small amount, that might be you.
How to find out if you can’t use cannabis
First of all, you need to try several different products at different doses. Also, keep track of your use with a cannabis journal, this will enable you to see patterns that may help you determine when is a good time to use cannabis, and when you need to avoid it.
Maybe it’s certain strains or certain types of products that bother you. Maybe certain times of the month you’re more sensitive to the effects of THC. Maybe when you’re very tired or too anxious it’s not good for you. The only way to tell is to keep track.
If you do all of that and you still have a bad reaction, it’s unfortunate but it’s likely cannabis simply isn’t for you.
Cannabis may trigger certain health conditions
While it may help some people with their health issues, it might aggravate yours. This is especially true if you suffer from serious mental health issues that cause paranoia (like panic disorder) or cause psychosis, like schizophrenia.
Some people may find relief from the plant with these types of mental health issues, however it’s more likely to aggravate it. If that’s you, I recommend working with a doctor or a medical cannabis consultant who understand your disorder and how to use cannabis.
I have panic disorder and I have to be very careful using cannabis. I’ve triggered panic attacks a few times from being careless and not being mindful with the plant. Everyone is different, what works for some won’t work for others, so use caution when using cannabis if you have a serious mental health disorder.
Reason 2: You took too much, or used the wrong type of cannabis product
This is hands down the number one reason why most people had a bad experience to cannabis. I’ve had people tell me how it makes their thoughts jumbled and they feel jittery and some have said they felt like they were going insane. When I asked them how much they took, they can’t tell me, they don’t know.
If I told you I drank alcohol and I was vomiting, unable to walk, not aware of my own actions and had bruises all over my body. Then went on to say that alcohol is bad for people because it makes them sloppy, stupid and can lead to lack of consciousness, you would say the reason why is because I drank too much.
This is the same problem with cannabis, doing too much can be a frightening experience for some people. Never, ever take cannabis unless you know how much you’re taking. Don’t just eat a pot brownie because your stoner friend made some and weed is weed, right? No, it isn’t.
Dose is everything
This is why this site is dedicated to teaching people how to use cannabis correctly, with as much detail as I can provide because you’re not going to find this information very easily, and it’s crucial to know how much to take and how it works.
Most people use edibles as an entry point to cannabis. Edibles can be very potent and it’s important to know how much to take and how long they last.
If you’re new to cannabis, or you haven’t used cannabis in a very long time, your starter dose for edibles is 2.5 to 5mg. Then go up from there, but how you go up is equally important. Don’t jump up in dose drastically; go up another 2.5 or 5mg at a time. Trust me 2.5mg can make a huge difference in how it feels.
Edibles can take up to 2 hours to kick in so don’t take more thinking it wasn’t enough. I recommend you don’t take more until the next day, let that dose work out of your system before trying again.
Fast-acting edibles may be a better choice, especially for those of you new to cannabis. They work similarly to smoking cannabis with the onset around 15min and duration around an hour or so. This makes it less of a commitment and fast-acting edibles aren’t as strong as regular edibles as they bypass the liver, going straight to the bloodstream.
Related article: Fast-acting edibles reinvents your cannabis experience
Avoid concentrates and smoking cannabis. This is where many people make a mistake with cannabis, using a method that’s too potent and they end up having a bad reaction.
I had to quit smoking cannabis back in 2008 because it was giving me bad panic attacks. Smoking cannabis makes it stronger, it’s better to put the ground up herb into a dry herb vaporizer and set it to a low temperature, rather than lighting on fire. This is the method I use and it’s the best way to enjoy cannabis with mild effects.
Dabbing, vape pens and concentrates
Dabbing is very popular with young people and it’s the worst way to try cannabis. It’s a form of vaporizing using a high temperature and a concentrate that can be almost 99% pure THC. This is going to have too much of a psychoactive effect for most people. If there’s one thing I can tell the developing brains in this world (those of you under the age of 25) it’s to stay away from dabbing.
Vape pens are another form of vaporizing that uses a concentrate. There’s some vape pens that are formulated with high CBD and low THC, such as the Dosist pens, those pens are mild and fine for beginners. However vape pens can also be high in THC and very strong, so don’t buy one without talking to the budtender first, so they can recommend one that’s lower in THC.
I read an article awhile back about a woman who tried one hit off of a vape pen -one her husband bought from a cannabis store without really knowing what he was buying- and they ended up calling an ambulance because she was unfamiliar with the side effects of too much cannabis.
Vape pens can be too strong, I know, I’ve had one hit off of one -me someone who uses cannabis regularly- and not only did I get too high, I was hanging around the toilet feeling like I was about to vomit.
Side effects of too much cannabis are:
- Shaking and trembling
- Fast heart rate
- Anxious and paranoid thoughts
- Nausea and vomiting
Keep in mind that cannabis doesn’t have a lethal dose, it can feel scary when you take too much but that will pass and you’ll feel normal again once it wears off. For edibles that can take 8 hours or more in high doses and for inhalation it can take an hour to several hours if you took way too much.
Concentrates are strong, too strong for most people who haven’t built up a tolerance to cannabis. If you take cannabis regularly, you build up a tolerance so you can use higher doses. I sometimes use concentrates like hash, mixed in with my dry herb but I only do that rarely.
Reason number 3 – You mixed cannabis with another substance like alcohol
I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me that cannabis made them sick, only to tell me that they had been drinking before they used cannabis.
Just because you can drink anyone under the table, doesn’t mean you can mix it with cannabis. Cannabis is a completely different substance and mixed with alcohol, it can mess you up.
“weed before wine and you’ll be just fine, wine before weed and you’ll be sorry indeed”
Always use cannabis first if you plan to have alcohol. A nice glass of wine or beer is fine after you use cannabis, then you can control how you feel, if you start to feel uncomfortable, stop.
Cannabis and alcohol don’t mix well. They can, if you’re used to using both but even still, you have to be careful. It’s better that you don’t drink alcohol and instead drink a CBD seltzer instead.
Related article: Can you mix wine and weed?
Bonus tip: Always take CBD with THC
CBD is scientifically proven to reduce the side effects of THC. I noticed this myself when I would combine a nice big dose of CBD with THC, that it felt cleaner, smoother and I didn’t get some of the side effects like feeling jittery.
If you don’t use cannabis that often, buying a CBD edible to take with your THC edible is something you can try. You can buy some edibles that have CBD in them however I recommend buying a bottle of CBD capsules or oil and taking about 20 to 50mg whenever you take THC.
Related articles: Why you should always take CBD with THC
Use cannabis with intention
Mindful use of the plant is how you’re going to get the best experience, where you can feel cannabis working for you rather than against you.
This means being aware of what type of cannabis your taking, how much and when. Again, keeping a cannabis journal is how you can keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
There’s also the saying of “get high on your own supply” don’t just take cannabis from someone to try, when you don’t know how much your taking. Don’t let anyone push you into taking it as well, you have the right to say no. What works for them might not work for you, find the products and dose that do work for you and stick to those.
For more information on how to use cannabis properly, check out the Learn section as it contains all you need to know to get started with cannabis.
Another Study Says Legalizations Don’t Increase Cannabis Use
The line is old and never made sense in the first place, but politician after politician like to extol the fear that if they legalize cannabis, everyone will become a pothead. As it turns out, study after study say the opposite, that legalizations don’t increase cannabis use, particularly in younger populations. Take a look.
Yet another study now shows that legalizations don’t increase new cannabis use in kids, so why do we keep hearing that it will from politicians? Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
The question of whether legalizations do or don’t increase use comes up a lot in debates over legalization measures. A study published a couple weeks ago called Estimating the effects of legalizing recreational cannabis on newly incident cannabis use, investigates the estimated occurrence of new cannabis users in the below 21 years-of-age grouping, versus those 21 and above. The study sought to find estimates representative of all US states, as well as Washington, DC, and used the data of 819,543 US residents (non-institutionalized) from the years 2008-2019.
Information was collected via audio computer-assisted self-interviews, as part of National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) surveys. These surveys were cross‐sectional, and conducted with “multistage area probability sampling to draw state-level representative samples and to over-sample 12-to-17‐year‐olds.”
It should be noted that this entire study draws from information taken from semi-unrelated research, and was not designed and carried out specifically for its purpose. As stated by the investigators in the write-up, “As this research used publicly available and anonymized data, the research was determined as not human subjects research by the Michigan State University Institutional Review Board on 8/26/2021.” This is not an uncommon practice, and though often used to create associations that really don’t exist, in many situations its a perfectly fine way to collect and asses data.
Investigators used DiD event study models (difference-in-difference) to make inferences on policy effects that were implemented in a staggered way over a period of time. These models are regularly used to show treatment effects from before and after treatment sessions, in medicine, and are used similarly here to see the difference in cannabis use, pre and post legalization.
The results of the study indicate “no policy-associated changes in the occurrence of newly incident cannabis onsets for underage persons, but an increased occurrence of newly onset cannabis use among older adults.” So, basically, its saying that legalizations didn’t lead to more underage people starting to smoke, but did lead to more people of legal age starting to smoke.
They go on to stipulate, “These results show consistent evidence of an increase in the occurrence of newly incident cannabis use for adults aged 21 years and older after the removal of prohibitions against cannabis retail sales. For those aged 12-20-years-old, the study estimates support the hypothesis that RCLs did not affect the occurrence of newly incident cannabis use for underage persons.”
And that “We offer a tentative conclusion of public health importance: Legalized cannabis retail sales might be followed by the increased occurrence of cannabis onsets for older adults, but not for underage persons who cannot buy cannabis products in a retail outlet.” As dispensaries are meant for adults to use at will, and are only barred to underagers, this hardly presents a problem, while backing up that legalizations really don’t increase cannabis use among younger residents.
Are new adult smokers a problem?
This study shows that legalizations don’t increase use in kids, and don’t result in every kid running out to start smoking weed. In fact, it maintains that this isn’t a reason for worry at all. What it does point to, is the possibility that more adults 21 and above might start to smoke after legalizations.
I expect this will be enough for some politicians to latch onto in their quest to link legalizations with a pothead culture. But the problem with this, is that a legalization, and legal dispensaries, are meant to allow this very behavior, indicating that its not a dangerous enough behavior to warrant concern. In fact, not only is it not dangerous, but the array of states with medical legalizations might argue that cannabis is beneficial, which makes it not only not a bad thing for more adults to use cannabis, but possibly an overall beneficial one.
Plus, having an issue with adults smoking, is silly at best when considering how many bars there are, and retail locations to buy alcohol, the drug with one of the highest death counts, and overall global rates for death and disability. And one of the only drugs (along with the idea of smoking in general) that regularly hurts those not partaking, in the form of drunk driving incidents. And though legislators like to point at cannabis for causing danger on roadways, this too has been evaluated in studies, which actually found lower incidence rates of driving accidents in states with medical legalizations.
Should we care that a legalization measure meant to make something completely available to adults…is being used by those adults? Even if in higher numbers than before? I mean, that is the purpose of the industry, right? And given how excited everyone is about the tax value of the cannabis market, it kind of seems like increasing adult smokers, was always the goal.
Uruguay study already showed similar results
Though investigators in the study mentioned above say “This cannabis policy evaluation project adds novel evidence on a neglected parameter”, referring to research on how prevalent new underage smokers are post legalization; this is not correct. Other investigations about whether legalizations do or don’t increase use are already published on this topic, including a recent one from Uruguay.
Uruguay was the first country in the world to go against global mandate and legalize the recreational use of cannabis back in 2013. So it easily has the longest running data stream for how a legalization effects smoking onset in different age groups. In May of this year, a study was published, which “measured whether Uruguay’s non-commercial model of recreational cannabis legalization was associated with changes in the prevalence of risky and frequent cannabis use among secondary school students.”
The study used collected cross-sectional surveys filled out by both Uruguayan and Chilean secondary school students (8th, 10th, 12th grades), from 2007-2018, with a total of 204,730 persons for which data was collected. They used a full range of kids in the 12-17 age range, as well as a specific group in that range that mentioned past-month or past-year use, as well as another group of 18-21 year olds.
They particularly looked at changes in frequent or risky cannabis behavior in past-month and past-year models, with special interest in changes just after the legalization kicked in, in 2014. Investigators used the Cannabis Abuse Screening Test for risky cannabis behaviors, and established frequent use as 10+ days in the last month.
Study results found that there was not an increase, but a decrease in both past-month and past-year use directly following the start of the industry, in the 12-17 range. Though there was a slight uptick in the 18-21 range right after the market opened, risky use quickly decreased soon after. In fact, risky use decreased in all the following samples: participants who used in the past-month, who used frequently in the past-year, and those that claimed frequent use from the entire sample.
Not only does this study indicate no issue with raised cannabis use in the underage community after legalization, but it shows a decrease in overall risky use for all groups. Plus, this is the second study of this nature out of Uruguay. In 2020, the study The impact of cannabis legalization in Uruguay on adolescent cannabis use was published, which came to its own conclusion that “We find no evidence of an impact on cannabis use or the perceived risk of use. We find an increase in student perception of cannabis availability (58% observed vs. 51% synthetic control) following legalization.”
This indicates that students are wholly aware of the increased availability of cannabis, yet aren’t running out to go get it. The study sought to “estimate the impact of legalization in Uruguay on adolescent past year and month cannabis use, perceived availability of cannabis and perceived risk of cannabis use.”
How long will we keep hearing the line that we’re all going to be pot junkies if a legalization occurs? And how many more studies must show that legalizations don’t increase cannabis use in younger communities, before the powers that be get the point? As the line sounds like an excuse to begin with, I’d say we’re not even close to that backwards sentiment being wiped off the boards, and it will take time for the logic to fully filter down. Luckily, the process is most definitely underway, thanks to recent research.
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THC Limit: The Point That You Don’t Get Higher
Our standard way of thinking about drugs is that the more drugs you take, the more intense an experience you’ll have. In this model, not only does more mean more intensity, but it also means the possibility of taking too much, and overdosing. Can this happen with cannabis? According to research, THC has a limit, and if you keep smoking past it, you don’t get higher. Take a look.
Do we have THC limits within us? Is there a point of smoking when we don’t get higher, no matter how much we smoke? According to research (and life), yes, there is! Our 100% independent news publication focuses on stories in the growing cannabis and psychedelics spaces. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter for readers to stay updated, and offer tons of deals for a range of products, from smoking devices to cannabinoid products like HHC-O, Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC. You can find deals in our ‘best of’ lists, for which we ask you only buy products you are comfortable with using.
Before getting to the study, and the ‘official’ documentation, let’s first think about smoking behavior. Sure, not everyone is a giant pothead, but there are plenty of giant potheads out there, and even lower-level smokers might encounter a specific time period of mass smoking whereby they can assess the situation of what happens with increased amounts of THC.
If you keep taking opioids, you’ll get super high, and then eventually, you’ll take too much for your system to handle the depressive aspects of the drug, and your body will shut down. We call that an overdose. Many drugs lead to death when too much is taken, by essentially flooding the body with a compound it can’t remove fast enough, or balance the effects of, for regular function. Some drugs are more likely to kill than other drugs, but even a non-fatal reaction can result in a seizure, unconsciousness, or bodily injury of some kind.
However, this isn’t the case for all drugs. And technically, for pot, we know this doesn’t happen fatally because there are enough smokers out there, that this kind of information is understood. We know people don’t die from pot because no death statistics exist. And because no one has seen it happen before. But what does that mean for super heavy smokers? Are they simply never getting to the death limit, or is there no limit to get to? And if it won’t cause death, does that mean it stops working at some point?
Standard life tells us, yes. As a regular smoker myself (and a sometimes full-out pothead), I’m well aware that if I take toke after toke after toke, that eventually, I’m not going to feel any difference anymore. After a certain point, my brain will remain at the same level of mush, and I don’t get higher, despite possibly smoking way, way more. I might burn my throat if I’m smoking joints or pipes, or set my asthma off (both things that are avoided by vaping), but I’m not going to enter into some new high headspace with each new drag.
Technically, every smoker knows this, even if they never thought about it logically. For one thing, if we did continue to get to higher points, it would be written about extensively, and its not. At all. And for another thing, that seeming inability to die from it indicates that at a certain point, there is no further bodily response. A couple years ago, a study came out that helped show this logic, and which backs up the idea that with THC, there is a limit. And after that limit, smokers don’t get higher.
The study in question, is called Association of Naturalistic Administration of Cannabis Flower and Concentrates With Intoxication and Impairment. The goal of the study was to assess if there is an “association of legal market cannabis flower and concentrates with cannabis intoxication and neurobehavioral impairment?”
In order to do this, study researchers designed a cohort study with 121 cannabis flower and concentrate users. The participants were in groups per their choice of general product (flower or concentrate), and then randomly split within user groups into two groups, a higher-THC product group, and a lower-THC product group. The study used legal market cannabis flowers for the flower group, with a range of 16-24% THC, and concentrates with 70-90% THC for the concentrates group. 55 of the participants used cannabis flower (41.4%), and 66 of the participants used concentrates (49.6%).
Investigators measured plasma cannabinoid levels, as well as subjective drug intoxication of the users, and performance results on a range of neurobehavioral tasks to test attention, memory, inhibitory control, and balance. Researchers found that it didn’t matter which product the participants used (flower vs concentrate), as users showed similar behavior on a neural level after acute use.
The concentrates caused uniformly higher THC blood plasma levels across the board (.32 vs .14 μg/mL). In nearly all metrics, though, neurobehavioral measures were not changed by short-term cannabis use. There was a delay in impairment of verbal memory and balance in general, but apart from these factors, there was no different outcome based on the type of product or potency level.
Researchers concluded that though cannabis concentrates provide higher THC exposure, that the difference in subjective and neurobehavioral impairments in the short term, is not specifically associated with the strength of the product used.
According to researchers, “In general, across most cognitive measures, acute performance changes following cannabis use were minimal. In 1 exception, delayed verbal recall performance was impaired after use, which is consistent with prior work demonstrating reliable cannabis-associated impairment in this memory domain.” And that “across forms of cannabis and potencies, users’ domains of verbal memory and proprioception-focused postural stability were primarily associated with THC administration.”
One limitation of the study, was that there was no control group used, so all participants received THC, with no group which did not. Investigators were also required to go by federal mandate, which restricted drug dosing, as well as control of other aspects of administration. A last restriction, they had to pre-assign the major groups of flower-users vs concentrate-users based on pre-existing user behavior, due to ethical limitations. Even with these limitations, the results still say a lot about how little the effect changes when a person has more THC.
What it means
The researchers weren’t testing to see at what level a person stopped breathing, or keeled over and died. However, the research pointed out why we don’t worry about these things with cannabis. If low and high THC users essentially show the same functional reactivity, it indicates that past a point, no further effect is felt by increasing THC.
Though this doesn’t provide a direct answer as to whether a person can die from too much THC, or too much cannabis in general, it does imply this is unlikely. Death results from the body being pushed past a limit, for which stronger and stronger doses of a compound will show a leveled increase in whatever is being measured. After the point the body can no longer handle this, it shuts down, or changes in some way.
This study implies that though THC plasma levels increase, and though some neurobehavioral change occurs (mainly in verbal memory and balance), that results are effectively the same regardless of THC amount. This means that even if the THC in the blood continues to increase, it shouldn’t show any further change with neurobehavioral activities. This study did not asses effects on heart rate, breathing rate, or blood pressure.
If one was to make the assumption that such changes in these other processes would be indicated by differing brain behavior, then it could be assumed (while still requiring official testing), that increased levels of THC intake, past a point, do not alter other body functions like respiration, heart rate, or blood pressure, either. Once again, this study did not attempt to answer these questions, but as cannabis isn’t associated with a death rate, the implication is that these factors don’t increase out-of-range either.
This study backs up why there’s no death count for marijuana. It might not explain why the body reacts the way it does, but it does show a certain ability to withstand increased amounts of THC. This leaves plenty more questions for the future, but does elucidate why when we get to the point of smoking joint after joint, or taking vape hit after vape hit, or bong rip after bong rip, that the end result, is about the same. And that somewhere along the way, we hit a THC limit, whereby we don’t get higher.
This is not to say that a user won’t experience bad effects from using cannabis, even if death isn’t one of them. However, having said that, there is also no indication that these negative responses accumulate with use, either, indicating that there is also a limit to the bad feelings that can come from smoking marijuana.
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Switzerland Implements Wide-Reaching Medical Cannabis Program
All eyes are on Switzerland as the country makes big moves to start its own cannabis industry. The country announced plans for a recreational measure last year, and now Switzerland is introducing a wide-reaching medical program that goes far beyond its previous limits.
Switzerland is on a rampage, both widening its medical cannabis program, and awaiting new recreational legislation. Cannadelics is an independent news source focusing on the cannabis and psychedelics fields of today. Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Switzerland up until now
Switzerland is all over the board these days, but up until recently, this was not the case. So what was the deal with Switzerland up until its impressive moves of late? First off, Switzerland is not a part of the EU, so it never had to go by EU regulation. Whereas products with up to .3% THC are legal in EU countries, Switzerland has a max THC level of 1%. Outside of this, cannabis is illegal.
In 2012, the country instituted a decriminalization measure which allowed for small amounts of cannabis (up to 10 grams) with only a 100 Swiss Franc fine, and no jail time included. Once either the 10-gram limit is gone over, or the 1% THC limit, a violator is subject to both a fine, and a prison sentence up to three years.
A lot happened in 2012, though it didn’t all stick. That year, certain cities gained the ability to legally grow low-THC hemp, up to the 1% limit. But then, Just months after this started, the government itself nullified this ability, because it said it was in violation of federal drug laws. Switzerland operates like many multi-state countries where cannabis penalties vary between its different states.
In another 2012 measure, legislation was instituted that made both selling cannabis, as well as possessing amounts enough to affect as many as three people, punishable by up to three years in jail, along with a possible fine. This was updated in 2017 to exclude possession, and to only fine those actively using; which allowed many states to drop possession cases for small amounts.
In terms of Switzerland and a medical cannabis program, the country didn’t have a comprehensive one until current events. The Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances in 2008 (implemented in 2011) allows Swiss doctors to get special permits to prescribe cannabis to terminal patients, for 12 months at a time. It also requires patients to apply for authorization from the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health). Only tinctures and oils were approved by this measure, and its hardly wide-ranging, with only two pharmacies able to provide such medications.
This didn’t stop the pharma medicine Epidiolex from gaining approval in 2018, even as flowers and resin are both barred. From this time, however, pharmacies have been able to create specific CBD formulations for patients. Overall, the ability to access cannabis medicines has been highly restricted in Switzerland, though recent changes are now opening the country to much wider usage, with even bigger plans for the future.
Switzerland updates medical program
Everything just mentioned about Switzerland and its medical program, has now been updated thanks to a new amendment put forth by the country’s seven-member Federal Council, which is the country’s joint head of state and federal government. This amendment updates the Narcotics Act to erase the ban on medical cannabis, which in turn creates a much wider market.
Starting in the beginning of August, patients no longer have to apply for the authorization from the FOPH, and can now get a regular prescription, straight from their doctor. The new amendment isn’t just meant for patients in Switzerland, but predictably for an export market as well (very few legalizations of this sort don’t include the ability for an export market). Less was stated about an impending import market. The limit for THC is still the same for all products, at 1%.
Part of the reason for this change, was due to increasing demand for medical authorizations, which had grown to the point of burdening the government with extra administrative work, which led to treatment delays for patients in need. The conditions for treatment also expand under this new amendment, letting more people benefit from cannabis medication.
According to the government, this update should be beneficial to those suffering from spastic diseases, and pain issues. Prior to the update, approximately 3,000 approvals for medical cannabis were given yearly to those suffering from the likes of neurological diseases, MS, and cancer.
In order for the amendment to take effect, it required changes to the Narcotics Control Ordinance and the Narcotics List Ordinance. Cultivation regulation for this new medical industry falls under the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic).
Nothing was updated concerning reimbursement for cannabis medications by the healthcare system of the country. As medical cannabis is only reimbursed in the most dire of cases, this indicates that many people will be paying out of pocket for their cannabis medicine, even when legally prescribed by a doctor. The reason given for this omission is that there isn’t enough available evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment, which makes very little sense since it was considered effective enough to be legalized for this purpose.
What about a full recreational legalization?
Switzerland looks like it will be the first country in Europe to set up a regulated sales market, along with trials meant to help establish new regulation. In 2020 I reported about the Swiss government green-lighting trials for recreational cannabis, a project that has been in the works for many years. The trials will allow the legal production and sale of cannabis, but only in specific locations and with many restrictions. In September of 2020, the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances was officially amended by way of parliamentary approval, which allows scientific trials for selected groups. This went into effect May, 2021.
These regulations set maximum THC limits to 20%, come with limits for pesticide residue, and also mandate warning labels. In order to be a part of these trials, and have access to this recreational cannabis, individual cities and municipalities must first prove that recreational cannabis is not hurting their current population.
As of April 2022, the first of these recreational test programs was authorized specifically for Basel, Switzerland. This specific program is meant to last two years, includes 400 adults, and essentially is meant to provide data for future pricing and consumption regulation, for a full recreational market.
Though the pilot studies sound interesting, they’re really only to help with what’s coming. Even before the programs officially started, a parliamentary commission made a vote in October 2021, which ruled that cannabis shouldn’t be banned, and that the country must establish legislation to officially legalize it. In essence, Switzerland has legalized recreational cannabis, and is simply waiting for a bill (the vote doesn’t change anything without written legislation).
The whole thing is a little confusing. Switzerland is pushing for scientific trials to assess how to run a recreational market, while already working on the legislation to set up that market. And to make it more confusing, the basics of this began before Switzerland even implanted a full medical system, which is only happening now. Somehow none of this seems like its in the right order, but one thing for sure is, progress is great, no matter how it comes. And Switzerland is sure in the fast lane to major cannabis reform.
Perhaps competition with Germany is part of what’s spurring this on so quickly. The neighboring countries are both planning for recreational legalizations, and are both getting amped up to enter the global market. Switzerland for its part is working on both ends. Updating its medical program, before instituting its recreational one.
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