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Major Studies of Drugs and Drug Policy
Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs
Volume 3 - Public Policy Options

Chapter 20 - Public Policy In Other Countries - Switzerland

Statistics on narcotics use and offences under the Narcotics Act

This section summarizes parts of a Federal Office of Police publication entitled Situation Suisse: Rapport de Situation 2000 [2000 Situation Report on Switzerland],[1][171] prepared by the Analysis and Prevention Service as an interim document, given that a comprehensive report is to be published in 2002. It should be noted that the statistics in the report are distorted by methodological deficiencies. Switzerland is a federal state with 26 cantonal entities (cantons and half-cantons) and offences are not recorded based on the same criteria in every canton. Furthermore, the statistics do not make it possible to control double or multiple entries; some suspects may appear repeatedly in the same year or in different cantons. Finally, only some of the criminal acts under the criminal code are taken into account.[2][172]



The report found the following trends in 2000:

          a sharp rise in marijuana use;

          a sharp rise in cocaine use;

          a sharp rise in multiple addictions (use of various kinds of narcotics);

          a sharp rise in synthetic drug use (amphetamines and methamphetamines) Thai pills[3][173] have become the "in" drug;

          a downward trend in injection heroin use;

          virtually no open drug scenes in Swiss cities;

          205 deaths due to drugs and recorded by the police (as compared to 405 in 1991) those over 27 were the most affected age group, for men and for women, and Zurich and Bern were the most affected cantons, with 50 and 36 deaths due to drugs, respectively;

          18- to 24-year-olds remain the most frequent users of marijuana, hash and hallucinogens, while those over 30 are the most frequent users of cocaine and heroin.[4][174]



Federal Narcotics Act drug-related offences reported cases rose from 44,307 in 1999 to 46,558 in 2000. This represents a significant increase over the 18,800 reported cases in 1990. A comparison of the number of reported cases per offence type in 1997 and 2000 reveals a downward trend in drug trafficking, smuggling, dual offences and an overall increase with the exception of 1999[5][175] in drug use cases.

The number of reported cases of drug dealing in 2000 fell to 3,021 from 3,711 in 1999. This represented a drop of 18.5%. However, some cantons posted a major hike in reported cases. A case in point was the city of Basel, which recorded an increase of 31%. The report urges caution in interpreting these figures, suggesting that the major drop in the number of reported cases is not in fact due to an improved situation in these specific cantons, but rather to a decrease in the number of cases reported by the police as investigation capacity and officers are deployed in other areas. It should be noted that of a total of 3,021 drug trafficking cases, 78% involved foreigners and 22% Swiss citizens. With respect to the sex of offenders, 82% were men and 7% were women. The sex of the remaining 11% was unknown. The largest percentage (45%) of male offenders were aged between 18 and 24, whereas the majority of female offenders were over 30 (56%), followed by the 18-to-24 age group (27%).[6][176]



[1][171]  Federal Office of Police, Situation Suisse : Rapport de situation 2000, Analysis and Prevention Service, 2001, available online in French at http://www.bap.admin.ch/f/index.htm.

[2][172]  Ibid., page 7.

[3][173]  According to the Federal Office of Police press release, Thai pills contain metamphetamine, and their structure closely resembles that of ecstasy. They come from Thailand, where they go by the name of "Yaba" (drug that makes you go crazy). The tablets bear the letters "WY" and smell like vanilla. The substance is usually smoked, using a sheet of aluminium, or absorbed. The risk of addiction among people absorbing the product by smoking it is at least three times greater than among ecstasy users. This drug is a powerful stimulant with effects comparable to those of crack, but longer lasting. These pills may result in irreparable physical and mental damage (loss of memory, depression). They may also cause paranoid hallucinations and violent fits and create psychological dependence faster than ecstasy.

[4][174]  Federal Office of Public Health, 2000, op. cit., page 17‑37.

[5][175]  Ibid., page 18‑19.

[6][176]  Ibid., page 20‑23.

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