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The hemp pioneer hopes for a sign from above

On the day that Markus Lüdi was the entrepreneur, he drove his car into the Emmental and bought at a farmers one kilogram of hemp. Not the innocent goods without the psycho-active THC. But Drug Hemp. "It was the nineties," recalls Markus Lüdi. "That was quasi-legal."

Lüdi – father of a family, single-family house owner and a chemist at a medium-sized natural remedies manufacturers – not wanted to smoke the product. To put home in Burgdorf, he a VAT of the stuff: a kilo of hemp, ten kilograms of alcohol.

for 14 days Lüdi had to pull the brew. Then he ran an ad in the "Swiss Apotheker Zeitung" and began to sell small quantities of Cannabis tincture. Directly to the patients.

The authorities decide to grant him. For around two years. Then, the Federal office for health intervened. Contrary to a previous assessment of his tincture the case now, but under the narcotics act. It is not traffic capable. Lüdi stopped the sale and wanted to turn away from the topic. But then this began with the Call.

"Si wei kes Gschtürm in Chopf"

"screaming people" had begged him to deliver the tincture still says Lüdi. Some would have cried on the phone. Finally they had found something that brought you to sleep. And now it was illegal? "Actually, I realized only then how good this product is," says Lüdi. "So I've decided to do everything to be allowed to it is legal to manufacture."

That was in 1998. Since then, Markus Lüdi is more or less permanently in a dispute with the authorities. He has achieved a lot in this time. In 2002, he was the first Swiss who received from Swissmedic, a cultivation licence for Cannabis to research purposes. He has conducted scientific studies to Cannabis as a Medicine. He has determined that for the medical application, the optimal ratio between the active substances CBD and THC. He has for many years been looking for the right breeding. He has refined his tincture to the needs of the patient ("Si wei kes Gschtürm in Chopf"). And today, Markus Lüdi, with its Cannapharm AG, one of the most important producers of medicinal cannabis preparation in Switzerland.

market with double-digit growth

Since 2011, rates have increased tenfold in sales, for example, says Lüdi. Although it is for the Doctors a murderous work was to obtain for their patients the exceptional authorisation by the Federal office for health (BAG). Ten Jobs depend about of his product: the organic farmers who grow hemp under the strict Supervision of the authorities and reaping, up to the Cannabis pharmacist, Manfred Fankhauser, who distributes the drug as alcohol-based or oily solution, to several Hundred customers, primarily pain patients, but also people with spastic movement Suffer interference and others.

but Markus Lüdi has not managed to do so far: He's not allowed to sell its Cannabis-tincture abroad. The BAG denied the cultivation authorisation for products intended for Export. For Lüdi this is a big missed opportunity. Not only in Canada and the USA, Cannabis has been approved recently as a cure, or even are generally legalized. Europe, too, is in motion: Since 2017, for example, Germany allows the medical use of Cannabis under certain conditions. Far more than ten thousand patients have benefited from it. However, because in Germany we have the Know-how for the cultivation is missing, it will be imported Cannabis to date exclusively. In advance from Canada, Israel and the Netherlands, allow the Export all of them. Market researchers expect by 2025 globally, with double-digit growth rates in the legal Cannabis market.

the threat of Switzerland, to miss the connection, says Markus Lüdi.

He sense great interest from Germany, says Lüdi. "I could settle in Germany, probably about Twenty to thirty times the amount that I sell in Switzerland." It wouldn't be worth it just for him, but also for the partners in its supply chain. "With an export permit 20 farmers in Switzerland would receive a nice additional income." Lüdi do not doubt that he would find enough farmers. Two years ago, he has searched for with a display in the "peasant newspaper" to potential farming partners. "200 interested farmers have reported."

BAG: first loose, then stubborn

Whether the BAG is the cultivation denied a permit for the Export to law, is controversial. Up to 2017 the Federal statistical office was said, various applications well. A comprehensive legal clarification have shown, however, that these permits were "mistakenly" granted, writing a BAG-speaker. The commercial Export of products and plants to unlimited medical purposes with the current narcotics law is not permitted.

A legal opinion, the Markus Lüdi has been commissioned and this newspaper is present, comes to the opposite conclusion. In the case of Exports to Germany, it was unrestricted medical use, writes Bernhard Rütsche, Professor of public law at the University of Lucerne. The grant of a permit would therefore be subject to certain conditions, even with today's act possible.

Because the BAG is stubborn, and has Markus Lüdi sought 18 months ago, the conversation with Christa Markwalder, and she is convinced. In a vote, the FDP national councillor is now demanding that the Export of Cannabis, which is medical purposes, under either the current law or of Reform. The national Council endorsed this claim oppositionslos. The Federal Council wants to allow the Export also, but only with a new law that could take effect at the earliest in 2023 in force. Markus Lüdi these are the crucial years. "If we have to wait until 2023, to be able to our Cannabis-based drugs for export, the market is already split to a large extent."

His last hope, health policy-makers in the Council of States are. They will discuss on Thursday the initiative of Christa Markwalder. You would give the interior Minister Alain Berset (SP) a clear mandate to review the decision of the BAG again, so Lüdi, believe a faster solution would be possible. And if not? "Switzerland missed the connection to the booming market. And the money goes to the Canadians and the Dutch instead of to our producers and farmers."

Created: 21.11.2019, 06:45 PM

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