Cannabis in Switzerland is illegal, though minor possession was decriminalized to a fine in 2012. Several cantons began to allow adults to cultivate and use cannabis in 2012, but this was struck down by federal courts. In 2016, four cities stated they were looking into establishing pilot cannabis clubs. The number of cannabis users in Switzerland is estimated to be around 500,000 among a population of 8 million.
Cannabis that contains more than 1.0% THC is classified as an illegal drug in Switzerland. Thus, according to the Federal Law on Drugs: the production, culture, use, and possession of cannabis, are all prohibited and considered as criminal infringements. These infringements are punishable by up to three years of imprisonment and/or a fine.
The federal council has committed to implement changes as to decriminalization of personal use and possession already in 2001, and the parliament is currently tasked to tender concrete approaches. As nothing is coming forth on a parliamentary basis, a referendum was launched in 2008.
Since 28 September 2012, the possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis is no longer a criminal infringement, but is still punished by a 100 Swiss francs flat fine. Professional cannabis trade, as well as the possession of a quantity of cannabis that can affect the health of a large number of people (4 kg of hashish, according to the Federal Court), are punished by one to three years of imprisonment that can be augmented with a fine.
On 5 October 2012, the Federal Court invalidated the Latin Concordat on hemp culture and trading, that came into force on 1 January 2012, which allowed private citizens in the cantons of Geneva, Freiburg, Valais, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Bâle-Town and Ticino to grow up to 4 hemp plants (containing less than 1.0% of THC), for violating the federal law on drugs.
In 2016 the cities of Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Geneva stated that they planned to establish pilot cannabis clubs to gauge their utility, limited to 2,000 members total and to be studied for four years.
The penalties imposed in practice also vary among cantons to a certain degree. The 2007 penalty guidelines adopted by the Bernese Judges' Association provide as follows:
An attempt to decriminalize possession and consumption of cannabis failed narrowly in Parliament in 2004. As a reaction, a popular initiative ("Eidgenössische Volksinitiative für eine vernünftige Hanf-Politik mit wirksamem Jugendschutz") to amend the constitution to legalize cannabis was introduced 2004. Results from the national referendum in November 2008 showed only 36.7% of those voting supported legalizing cannabis.