Drugs, Illegal or Otherwise
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Most drugs are illegal in Switzerland, but attitudes toward non-addictive drugs are changing. The Federal Surgeon’s office recently declared that they found ecstasy to be rather innocuous, somewhat of a scandal for older Swiss who cannot tell lysergic acid from methamphetamine. Marijuana and its derivatives are enjoying a boom nowadays in Switzerland, due to unclear laws that permit the culture of this robust plant for oil or medical purposes, and tolerate some shops that sell its hemp by-products. From time to time, police will raid growers and shops to remind people that Zurich has no intention of becoming Amsterdam—although marijuana may be soon legalized for Swiss residents. More disturbing is the heroin consumption that had found its center at the Spitzplatz just behind Zurich’s central station. For years an open market for drugs was tolerated there until a crackdown in 1992. Current issues include the big competition between traditional dealers and the new Kosovo Albanian Mafia that now dominates 95% of the market in some areas. This has driven prices down and consequently reduced the traditional crimes (burglary and mugging) associated with the search for money to finance drug addict needs. Some cantonal governments have tried methadone and needle distribution programs to reduce AIDS and to better monitor addicts. A federal vote in 1999 approved this stance.

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