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4 Jun, 2023 21:02

Swiss capital votes for legal cocaine

After testing the controlled sale of cannabis, Bern’s city parliament now wants to give residents access to harder substances
Swiss capital votes for legal cocaine

The municipal council of the Swiss capital Bern voted on Thursday to extend the trial sale of cannabis to cocaine. The drug will not be immediately legalized, however, without the federal government’s permission.

The motion, which was introduced by the Alternative Left party, passed by 43 votes to 18, Swiss news outlet SRF reported on Friday. The motion was opposed by center-right and religious councilors, but supported by leftists and some members of the center-left Social Democratic Party.

Bern voted last year to test the controlled sale of cannabis, and was granted permission by the federal government last month. Cannabis sales are expected to begin in Bern this fall, and have already started in Basel, Zurich, and Lausanne.

Noting that the federal government only agreed to allow cannabis sales after significant pressure from multiple cities, Bern Social Director Franziska Teuscher said her city would not push the government to act on cocaine, and that Thursday’s vote instead sent a signal that the city would be open to the idea in future.

A similar motion was rejected by the council in 2019, with the Social Democrat majority arguing that they wanted to gain experience with legal cannabis sales before moving on to harder drugs.

Switzerland is a cocaine hotspot, with Addiction Switzerland estimating that five tons of the powder enters the country every year. According to EU data, four Swiss cities – Zurich, Basel, Geneva – rank in the top ten in Europe for cocaine consumption. Consumption all across Europe has risen in the last decade, with residents of Bern consuming more than twice as much of the substance last year as they did in 2012.