How to get Cannabis license in Switzerland

How to get a Cannabis License in Switzerland

Switzerland’s new cannabis pilot program can create new opportunities for the industry.

Following a 2020 parliamentary resolution, Switzerland has started allowing recreational cannabis for adults in controlled substances in May 2021. Recreational cannabis trials are expected to begin in the Summer of 2022 [4]. Outside of the program, recreational cannabis use in Switzerland remains illegal. However, medical cannabis access is being improved. While many European nations are considering the legalization of recreational cannabis, Switzerland is still conservative on the matter. It might be a while before Switzcannabis licenses become accessible like in Canada. The Swiss pilot program may grant some limited opportunities to get a Swiss cannabis cultivation license, but requires growers to work with program organizers and Swiss regulators. Continue reading for a comprehensive guide to help you become a licensed cannabis producer in Switzerland.

Current Regulation of Cannabis in Switzerland

Right now it is totally legal to cultivate hemp in Switzerland. People looking to get a cannabis cultivation license can only do so through new pilot programs. There aren’t notable pathways to licensing in the Swiss medical marijuana market because that program is extremely limited. Here is an overview of the current state of cannabis in Switzerland.

Medical Marijuana in Switzerland

Historically, medical cannabis is extremely and surprisingly limited. “Currently, only one narcotic cannabis drug preparation is officially approved for medical use in Switzerland. …only two pharmacies in the country can dispense tinctures and oil concentrates to those with serious or terminal illnesses. Flower or resin are not available as medical cannabis [1].” Recently, a High Times article announced that medical cannabis access in Switzerland is undergoing a renovation [4]. An amendment to the Swiss Narcotics Act was approved in March of 2021. This change will make it easier for patients to get access to medical cannabis by streamlining the prescribing process. However, the term “medical cannabis” still only applies to products with less than 1% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The only approved medical cannabis preparation in Switzerland is Sativex.

Hemp in Switzerland

Swiss hemp laws are very liberal. In fact, most Swiss regulations use the word ‘cannabis’ to refer to hemp. Still, up to 1% THC is allowed, which is five times the 0.2% THC limit most European nations enforce [1]. Hemp and CBD products are widely available and are commonly sold at Swiss tobacco stores. While hemp is touted as “legal cannabis,” it does not have the same effects as marijuana. Mainly, at 1% THC, some people may catch a bit of a buzz, but it will not get a person high.

Recreational Cannabis in Switzerland

Adult recreational cannabis use has been heavily decriminalized in Switzerland [1]. They consider personal possession of fewer than 10 grams of cannabis to be negligible and not even subject to a fine. It is also very popular with an annual cannabis use rate of 8.7% and a projected market value of 1.2 Billion Swiss Francs. However, all current marijuana in Switzerland comes from illicit sources. A limited pilot program has begun to evaluate the impacts and potential for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Switzerland.

Authorized Pilot Trials for Recreational Cannabis in Switzerland (Non-Medical Use)

That being said, the Swiss government and the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) are undergoing a number of pilot trials in order to observe the effects of limited, authorized recreational cannabis legalization in certain cities.

These pilot programs will allow participants to distribute cannabis products in pharmacies, cannabis social clubs, and non-profit stores, as well as other distribution channels. The purpose of the trials is to take a measured approach toward recreational cannabis legalization, allowing the respective government organizations to understand distribution systems, and see which types of regulatory models would be acceptable by consumers, based on their consumption patterns. If you’re curious about the specific pilot programs that are currently in operation, take a look below:

  • Cann-L: The government’s intention with Cann-L is to assess the feasibility, and impact of a model that would regulate the consumption of cannabis, by selling cannabis through a non-profit in the city of Lausanne.
  • Grashaus Projects BL: The government is trying to understand if a structured, and controlled method of cannabis sales in Liestal brings about a change in consumption. This will allow them to understand potential distribution channels, and appropriate regulations that would be acceptable for local populations.
  • SCRIPT: The Swiss government is rolling out this trial in Berne, Bienne, and Lucerne to understand and evaluate the impact of a regulated not-for-profit method of selling cannabis in pharmacies would have on local populations, along with advisory services.
  • WeedCare: This study is meant to observe the effects on public health, after permitting regulated cannabis sales in Canton Basel-Stadt-based pharmacies.
  • ZüriCan: The government is legalizing the regulated sale of cannabis in the Zurich Drug Information Centre (DIZ), 10 pharmacies, and 10 social clubs in the city of Zurich. The intention for this study is to observe consumption patterns, and use that information to reach an appropriate regulatory framework.

Switzerland’s Cannabis Cultivation Pilot Program

In 2019, the Swiss government approved a pilot project to study the economic and health impacts of non-medical cannabis use. The plan starts on May 15, 2021, and will run through May 2031 [2, 3]. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is overseeing the limited 10-year pilot program. The recreational cannabis pilot schemes are requested by public or private entities with the participation of research institutes, local authorities, and FOPH approval. They must have specific research goals such as acquiring data on the socio-economic effects of cannabis legalization or other scientific goals.

Pilot programs have to be limited to a specific municipality and each may run for five years with a two-year extension option. They are allowed up to 5,000 participants that must be monitored by appointed physicians. Participants in the Swiss recreational cannabis pilot schemes must prove that they live in the area the pilot is authorized for and must also prove they are currently a consumer of (illicit) cannabis.

Swiss Cannabis Pilot Program Seeks Cannabis Club Volunteers

On September 17, 2021, BusinessCann reported on the latest development in Switzerland’s cannabis pilot program. “Züri Can – Cannabis with Responsibility” is the program that will recruit volunteers in Zurich, Basel, Bern, Lucerne, and Geneva. The government partnership with Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich and the Zurich Pharmacy Network will allow volunteers to obtain cannabis for recreational adult use from pharmacies and cannabis clubs.

The Swiss recreational cannabis pilot aims to determine the best course for regulation and distribution, study the effects of adult cannabis use, monitor volunteer’s health, and observe their consumption habits. The Federal Office of Public Health will issue production permits to cannabis growers to supply the pilot program. Producers will be held to strict quality standards following field trials conducted in 2020. A variety of THC and CBD products will be available to pilot participants. Switzerland has a well-established black market for cannabis, so regulators are highly motivated to move recreational cannabis legislation forward and displace dangerous black market cannabis products.

Cultivating Cannabis in Switzerland for Pilot Program Use

Cannabis users in the Swiss recreational cannabis pilots are limited to just 10mg THC per month and products cannot contain more than 20% THC [3]. The program participants purchase cannabis products from pharmacies or other dispensing sites that have been authorized by the program. Cannabis flower, extracts, isolates, and edibles are all allowed to be manufactured and sold within the scope of a pilot scheme.

If you are interested in cultivating cannabis in Switzerland for the pilot schemes, you can register your interest with the FOPH but will need to partner with organizers of a specific pilot program in order to get a license to cultivate cannabis in Switzerland [2]. If a program organizer is looking for a cultivator, FOPH supplies them with a list of companies that have registered their interest. All cannabis must be grown organically, as defined by Swiss law. Cannabis growers in Switzerland must also comply with Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) set out by the European Medicines Agency.

CBD Flower Production is Legal in Switzerland

While cannabis production is still undergoing its pilot program, CBD flower production has been legal in Switzerland since 2017. Cultivators and producers are allowed to grow flowers, and CBD products that contain less than 1 percent THC. These products don’t fall under the Narcotics Act.

This does not mean that CBD products are unregulated. They must still fall into accordance with the law, and adhere to respective regulations. For example, if a producer is selling CBD oil, it may classify as ‘foodstuff’, and will have to comply with respective federal law safety guidelines.

The Swiss CBD Market is Growing Quickly

The Swiss are using the CBD loophole in order to get ‘similar’ products to cannabis, without having to go through pilot programs. In fact, the Swiss CBD market is expected to grow 39% per year, with some experts predicting that the CBD industry in Switzerland will reach CHF 320 million ($318 million) by 2027. Some of the largest ‘cannabis’ producers in Switzerland are producing CBD products, while the government rolls out, and refines their cannabis licensing process.

Final Thoughts on Cannabis Cultivation in Switzerland

If you are looking to grow marijuana, there are many challenges to getting licensing for cannabis in Switzerland with the pilot program. You’ll need to be prepared to meet the hefty regulatory requirements of GAP. GrowerIQ understands these challenges and can help your cannabis cultivation business succeed with its revolutionary seed-to-sale software and consulting services. GrowerIQ offers cultivators the software infrastructure and quality assurance tools like standard operating procedures (SOPs) that help growers comply with stringent quality assurance requirements. GrowerIQ consultants can help you get licensed and assist you in implementing good business practices that result in better cannabis products and greater control of your financial success.

The fact that you found your way to this article is remarkable, we’re sure that you’re an ambitious grower. The oppourtunity in international trade does not end here. We have written guides on getting your cannabis license for more countries, such as Denmark, Columbia, Thailand, and Spain. Check out our guides over here: Cannabis License in Denmark, Cannabis License in Colombia, Thailand: The First Asian Country to Legalize Cannabis, and Cannabis License in Spain.

Find Out More

GrowerIQ’s seed-to-sale software is a critical system to help you comply with medical marijuana cultivation in Switzerland. Our experts can help you create a successful international cannabis venture and strive within any legal framework. To learn more, get in touch with our Cannabis professionals by completing the form below.

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About GrowerIQ

GrowerIQ is a complete cannabis cultivation management platform, designed in partnership with Master Grower, Shlomo Booklin. Ours is the first platform to integrate your facility systems, including sensors, building controls, QMS, and ERP, into a single simplified interface.

The company built insights from Shlomo’s 30+ years of agronomist experience right into the platform. GrowerIQ leverages proprietary machine learning technology to improve facility automation and provide cultivators with insights to improve quality and consistency. GrowerIQ is changing the way cultivators use software – transforming a regulatory requirement into a robust platform to learn, analyze, and improve crop performance.

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  1. Hudock, C. March 16, 2020. Swiss Cannabis Market Enjoys Advantages Unavailable to EU Competitors. New Frontier Data. Retrieved 5/8/21 from
  2. ‌Federal Office of Public Health FOPH. Pilot trials with cannabis. Published 2021. Retrieved 5/9/21 from
  3. Potter, N. (2022, June 22). Switzerland to Lift Ban on Medical Cannabis. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from High Times website: