Switzerland changed its laws in 2011 to allow adults to buy and use cannabis with up to 1percent THC, the chemical compound that produces a high. But its money-making potential seems to have been discovered only late last year, officials said.
“It started gradually last year, and then suddenly things went crazy in December 2016 and in 2017,” said a spokesman for Switzerland’s Customs Agency in Berne, which taxes the trade.
The number of retailers registered to sell low-THC cannabis has risen to 140 from just a handful last year, the agency says.
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It expects revenue of about $25 million (R315 million) on legal sales of $100 million from cannabis this year.
KannaSwiss, a wholesaler that supplies shops with organically grown low-THC cannabis to smoke or take orally, has quadrupled its staff to 20 since last year, but boss Corso Serra di Cassano says the company still can’t keep up with orders.
Paul Monot, a founder of Doctor Green’s cannabis shop in Geneva, said his store’s trade has grown briskly following its December opening, hitting monthly revenue of 50 000 (R635 000) to 100 000 Swiss francs.