Entrepreneurs have high hopes for cannabis in Switzerland, where business has suddenly taken off in recent months, six years after the country legalized low-potency “marijuana-light”.
Switzerland changed its laws in 2011 to let adults buy and use cannabis with up to 1 percent THC, the chemical compound that produces a high. But its money-making potential seems only to have been discovered 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, reports Reuters.
The number of retailers registered to sell low-THC cannabis has risen to 140 from just a handful last year, the agency says.
It expects revenue of around $25 million on legal sales of $100 million from cannabis in 2017, although the spokesman said the figure could be far higher if the boom continues.
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.
The company was founded by two scions of aristocratic families: di Cassano, whose lineage includes an Italian prince beheaded in 1799, and Boris Blatnik, whose sister married into the deposed royal family of Greece. They compare the high from low-potency pot to drinking a couple glasses of wine.
“You feel like you should be high, because you have a body high, but your mind is completely clear,” said di Cassano, walking among 3,000 plants inside a brightly lit grow room whose electricity bill runs to $15,000 a month.