Hemp no longer regulated by seed legislation
Bern, 17.12.2020 - From 1 January 2021, hemp will no longer be subject to agricultural seed legislation in Switzerland. The Federal Office for Agriculture is thus making it possible for seeds and seedlings to be produced and placed on the market for agricultural production of cannabidiol (CBD) hemp. The cultivation and use of narcotic hemp (cannabis) – regulated by narcotics legislation – is, however, generally prohibited.
Seed legislation ensures that, for the most important types of crops, only quality- and identity-assured seeds from performance-tested plant varieties are made available for agriculture. Over and above this goal, hemp was made subject to seed legislation in 1998 so that its industrial use as an oil and fibre plant could be demarcated from the prohibited narcotic cannabis. The introduction of a limit for the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), specified in the narcotics legislation in 2011, means that the prohibited substance cannabis can now be adequately demarcated. Industrial oil and fibre hemp and so-called CBD hemp are not covered by the narcotics legislation. The flowers of CBD hemp are used as a tobacco substitute or processed into other ready-to-use products. For the production of CBD, other varieties are used than for hemp oil and fibres. Under the existing seed legislation, however, these varieties cannot be granted authorisation. In addition, agricultural cultivation of cannabis, as defined in the narcotics legislation, is in future to be permitted for certain purposes. The Federal Office of Public Health is developing the necessary legal foundations for the medicinal use of cannabis and for scientific pilot studies on the use of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes. Here, due consideration will be given to the potential of the Swiss medicinal and aromatic plant sector. In order to facilitate the development of appropriate cultivation systems and plant propagation methods in agriculture, all provisions concerning hemp contained in the EAER Seed and Seedling Ordinance (SR 916.151.1) were repealed as part of the package of amendments to agricultural ordinances adopted by the Federal Council on 11 November 2020.
Address for enquiries
Florie Marion, Communication and Language Services, Tel. +41 58 461 14 41; Jonathan Fisch, Communication and Language Services, Tel. +41 58 483 92 78
Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture