You may have heard about their cut-price stollen, and possibly their surprisingly flavorsome jam. But you probably won’t have sampled the latest range offered by the supermarket chain Lidl: locally grown cannabis.
Two products derived from hemp flowers are being offered in Swiss stores as an alternative to rolling tobacco.
A 1.5g box, from plants grown indoors, costs 17.99 Swiss francs (£13.20). A 3g bag is 19.99 Swiss francs, but is made from flowers grown in greenhouses.
The packs are on sale alongside cigarettes and cigars at the tills. The cost per cigarette is double that of tobacco roll-ups.
Switzerland changed the law in 2011 to permit people over 18 to purchase and use cannabis containing no more than 1% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant’s principal psychoactive constituent.
Lidl’s products are designed to provide a relaxing and anti-inflammatory effect, but not to be intoxicating.
The German supermarket said its supplier – The Botanicals, based in Thurgau, north-east Switzerland – was growing the cannabis plants indoors and in semi-automated greenhouses
“The manufacturer relies on sustainable agriculture and refrains entirely from adding chemical, synthetic or genetically modified substances,” a statement said.
The product is said to be high on cannabidiol (CBD), an ingredient of the hemp plant. “The legally cultivable varieties contain only very small amounts of THC and a high proportion of CBD,” Lidl said.
Switzerland’s 2011 law change, designed to open up the availability of medicinal cannabis, has only recently been seized upon by commercial operators.
Switzerland’s customs agency, which collects taxes from cannabis product sales, recorded an increase in registered retailers from a “handful” in 2015 to more than 140 in the last year. In 2017 about £18m in tax was collected on sales of £73m.
The Swiss supermarket chain Coop – unrelated to the UK brand – was the first to sell cannabis cigarettes last year.
The charity Addiction Suisse has raised concern that CBD can modify the function of the placenta during pregnancy.
Lidl, one of the biggest supermarket brands in Europe, opened its 700th supermarket in the UK in February.