Swiss swish

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

I hear you’re in Zurich. How’s the weed?

—M. Entaler

The weed is … different? I am in Zurich for the International Cannabis Business Conference (I work for them, they are awesome) and the Cannatrade show (I don’t work for them, they are awesome). The good news: In Switzerland, you can buy weed at the store. There’s a good selection of strains, the prices are reasonable (about $10 per gram) and everything tastes pretty good. The bad news: THC is illegal, so all of the store-bought pot is just high-CBD hemp and not the THC-laden cannabis we all enjoy. I have heard rumors that some shops will discreetly sell you some actual weed, but I haven’t tested the theory. I did manage to find some really good hash, so I have resorted to rolling joints that are a mixture of the CBD weed and the high THC hash. Weird, yet effective.

More good news: Switzerland recently decriminalized cannabis. Instead of getting arrested and going to jail, someone caught with a small amount of grass has to pay a fine of about $100. Also, high CBD hemp and regular THC weed look and smell the same, so it is more difficult for the police to know if someone is actually breaking the law, and the authorities don’t seem as inclined to bother people as they used to be (at least in the bigger cities).

Moderate news: The Swiss federal legislature is looking to start trials and studies about the effects and safety of weed. They are expected to take 10 years. This is, of course, a stalling tactic. Weed is the safest recreational drug known to man, and the Swiss could save themselves a bunch of money and time by looking at some of the studies that have already been done. The Swiss cannabis activists I met seem to think that Switzerland will legalize cannabis in about three years. I hope they are correct.

Hey, did the bill that is supposed to lower cannabis taxes ever pass?

—M.T. Purseanbowl

Nope. It’s not gonna pass this legislative session. Last week, Assembly Bill 286, which would have lowered the excise tax from 15% to 11% and eliminated the cultivation tax completely, failed to gain any traction and is dead for this session. It’s a shame. To maximize profits, the state Bureau of Cannabis Control is pricing itself out of the cannabis game. The “black”—or as I prefer to call it, “traditional”—market is thriving in California for a few reasons: Prices are too high at the clubs, and more than half of the cities and counties in Cali still prohibit cannabis. The solution is simple, although it may seem counter-intuitive: Lowering taxes and expanding access to high-quality and well-tested cannabis would create more revenue than keeping taxes high and forcing people who live in prohibition zones to rely on the traditional weed dealer for their pot. Sometimes, fast nickels are way more profitable than slow dimes.