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FROM THE BLOG

Ten questions every company active in the cannabis business in Switzerland should reflect on

Posted by on 12 August 2019

On 26 June 2019, the Federal Council assigned the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) to conduct a consultation procedure on the amendment of the Federal Narcotics Act (NarcA), which will last until 17 October 2019. The planned amendment to the NarcA aims to facilitate and expand the handling of medicinal cannabis that is exempt from a special approval of the Federal Office of Public Health. In particular, the traffic ban on cannabis narcotics for medicinal purposes is to be lifted, which should lead to limited tradability.

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This offers new opportunities for the fast-growing cannabis industry in Switzerland and could fundamentally change the business model of many companies operating primarily in the CBD (cannabidiol) sector. Would it make sense, for example, to focus production on medicinal cannabis? Forward-thinking companies in the cannabis value chain who want to prepare themselves for a changed regulatory environment are well advised to reflect on at least ten questions should the new proposals be adopted into law:

1. To what extent does cannabis stay prohibited for non-medical use and, if so, what are the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance of the cannabis plant) thresholds?

2. Who is authorised to prescribe medicinal cannabis and under what conditions? Will exemption permits still be required for the use of medicinal cannabis (case-by-case examination)? Who will be responsible for prescription and treatment?

3. Is the prescription of medicinal cannabis products exempt from the tobacco tax duty?

4. Is the production of medicinal cannabis with a THC content of more than 1 per cent also subject to approval?

5. Who would be responsible for such an approval? How will production be monitored and which standards must be observed?

6. Does the approval of the proposal for a restricted tradability of medicinal cannabis also open up access to the export market?

7. What export regulations are applicable and what must be taken into consideration?

8. What are the other plans of the Federal Office of Public Health regarding the assessment of whether medicinal cannabis can be included in the list of specialities or in the list of medicinal products with tariff in order to enable reimbursement by compulsory health insurance?

9. Does the proposal include a restriction on the delivery methods and preparation of cannabis? What has to be taken into account in terms of therapeutic products law for a cannabis product to be recognised as a medicinal cannabis product?

10. To what extent will the law on varieties and seeds be adapted to facilitate the distribution of seeds and planting stock of cannabis for medicinal purposes to farmers?

The planned liberalisation has not yet been carved in stone and raises a number of other questions, so that this catalogue cannot be regarded as exhaustive. The detailed clarification of these questions is only expected with the amendment of the respective ordinances.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

 

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Topics: Private Clients | Corporate & Commercial

  
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Nicola Benz

Nicola Benz’s practice is focused on technology and life sciences transactions. She assists technology companies of all sizes, from start-ups to established players, as well as investors, suppliers and customers across a broad range of industries and sectors. Nicola Benz’s expertise covers outsourcing, licensing, joint ventures and collaborations and associated intellectual property issues. She also has considerable experience advising on all types of commercial contracts, competition and regulatory issues and data protection. Nicola Benz is recognised as a globally leading patent and technology licensing lawyer, as well as a leading practitioner in the field of intellectual property. Chambers Europe (2018) ranked her as leader in the fields of Intellectual Property and Life Science, and she was recommended in the 2018 edition of the Legal 500 EMEA for Intellectual Property as well as TMT matters. She has also been named as a thought leader for data law in the publication "Who's Who Legal 2018". Born in Scotland, Nicola obtained her law degree from the University of Edinburgh (LLB Hons) in 1997. She joined our firm as an associate in 2002 and became a partner in 2010. Since 2017 she has been the managing partner of our firm. Her working languages are English and German. Nicola is a member of the Zurich Bar Association, the International Trademark Association (INTA), the Licensing Executives Society (LES) and the International Technology Law Association (iTechLaw).

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Daniel Haymann

Daniel Haymann's practice focuses on international and domestic commercial litigation and arbitration as well as corporate and commercial law. He also advises firms in the cannabis industry along the entire value chain, including, among others, on regulatory matters. He obtained a Master of Law from the University of Zurich in 2004 and a Master of Business Administration with finance focus from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2013. He was admitted to the Zurich Bar in 2019. He gained extensive experience as a commodity trader and in managerial positions in the coal, petroleum coke and fertiliser industries for the two leading international commodity trading firms in their respective fields. He was based in Zurich, Baar, Singapore and Hong Kong. He then joined an International Finance and Business Development Boutique as partner and held management positions in corporate business development. Daniel Haymann works in English, German, Hebrew, French and Spanish and is conversant in Mandarin.

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