Lidl supermarkets in Switzerland are now offering a new product: locally grown cannabis. Yes, it looks like the German budget supermarket chain is taking advantage of a change in Swiss law by unveiling a new line of cannabis products.
Swiss Lidl stores currently offers two products derived from hemp flowers as alternative to rolling tobacco. One is a 1.5-gram box of cannabis from plants grown indoors, which costs 17.99 Swiss francs or £13.20. The other is a 3-gram bag of cannabis from greenhouse-grown flowers, which costs 19.99 Swiss francs.
These products are on sale alongside cigars and cigarettes at the tills. It can be noted that the cost of cigarette are double the cost of tobacco roll-ups.
While cannabis is illegal in Switzerland, it has decriminalized the small-scale possession of the drug in 2012. Meanwhile, the cultivation, use, and sale of cannabis is still considered a criminal offense.
Swiss law bans THC, but since 2011, less than 1% of THC has become legal. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the chemical found in cannabis that causes a high. This change in cannabis law in 2011 opened up the availability of medicinal cannabis. Commercial operators, however, have only recently seized upon this change in law.
There is now a growing market for legal over-the-counter, low-THC cannabis sales in nice-looking dispensaries.
Just recently, the smaller chamber of parliament – the Swiss Council of States – has unanimously adopted a bill that allows for pilot projects and cannabis studies in the country. The Council is calling for an experiment article to be added to the Narcotics Act, which article would pave the way for scientific research programs and cannabis distribution trials using the coffee shop model.
You can read our report on this here.
Who supplies these cannabis products?
A startup called The Botanicals supplies the cannabis products for Lidl. The Botanicals grows the hemp flowers exclusively in Thurgau, in the northeastern part of Switzerland, in specially designed indoor facilities and partially automated greenhouses.
The cannabis products from The Botanicals are supposed to be high in CBD. These products are designed to provide an anti-inflammatory and relaxing effect, without being intoxicating.
According to Lidl, The Botanicals relies on sustainable agriculture and entirely refrains from using chemical, genetically modified or synthetic substances. The Botanicals cultivates its hemp according to the GACP (Good Agricultural and Collection Practice) guidelines of the European Medicines Agency.
Cannabis tax in Switzerland
Switzerland’s customs agency collects taxes from the sale of cannabis products. The agency recorded an increase in the number of registered retailers from a mere “handful” in 2015 to over 140 in 2017. Last year, £18 million in tax had been collected on sales of £73 million.
Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, which is formerly known as Schwarz Unternehmenstreuhand KG, is a global discount supermarket chain that is based in Neckarsulm, Germany. It operates more than 10,000 stores throughout Europe and the United States. Lidl owner Dieter Schwarz also owns the stores Handelshof and hypermarket Kaufland.
Lidl has 100 stores in Switzerland. In Germany, it has more than 3,000 stores and in France, it has 1,500. The UK has the third most number of Lidl stores, having just opened its 700th recently. It has more than 600 stores Poland, 600 stores in Italy, and more than 500 stores in Spain. Other countries with Lindl stores include the Netherlands, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Denmark, and Finland, among others.
Customers in Germany and France who live near the Swiss border can cross the border and bring Lidl’s legal CBD products back. However, they may need to wait a while before the supermarket chain decides to bring these CBD products to its other stores in Europe.