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Switzerland: Decriminalization of Narcotics Consumption Proposed

(Oct. 20, 2010) On October, 15, 2010, the Committee for Social Security and Health of the National Council (Nationalrat), the representative chamber of the bicameral Swiss Parliament, resolved to initiate the legislative process for amending the Narcotics Act (Betäbungsmittelgesetz, Oct. 3, 1951, Systematische Sammlung des Bundesrechts No. 812.121, The purpose of this proposed reform is to decriminalize the consumption of and small-scale dealing in drugs, while vigorously pursuing narcotics dealers who operate on a large scale. Currently, small-scale dealers may face criminal penalties of up to three years in prison (Narcotics Act, art. 19).

Three different proposals are to be distributed among the concerned and interested parties, prior to the submission of a reform bill to Parliament. These drafts range from decriminalizing all drug consumption, as well as the possession of drugs for the purpose of consumption, to merely allowing the prosecutor discretion not to prosecute. A middle of the road variation among these drafts proposes to decriminalize cannabis consumption but not the consumption of hard drugs (The Federal Assembly, Für Straffreieheit des Dropgenkonsums. Nationalratskommission setzt Druck auf (Oct. 15, 2010),