High in the Alps: Swiss su­per­mar­kets sell some­thing ex­tra

Ci­garette ‘ tastes like a real joint,’ buyer says

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Bach­mann

GENEVA Natalia Fer­rera is in high spir­its — lit­er­ally. Stand­ing in front of a Coop su­per­mar­ket in the city’s Eaux- Vives sec­tion, she is smok­ing a ci­garette and en­joy­ing a buzz.

Fer­rera’s ci­garette has a dis­tinctly musky scent be­cause in ad­di­tion to to­bacco, it con­tains hemp and cannabid­iol ( CBD), one of the ac­tive in­gre­di­ents in the cannabis plant that is the source of mar­i­juana.

And this may be the only place in the world where you can get it at a su­per­mar­ket.

“It tastes like a real joint,” Fer­rera, 20, said, adding that she wanted to try the ci­garette “out of cu­rios­ity.”

She pur­chased a pack, mar­keted un­der the name Heimat, le­gally at Coop, one of Switzer­land’s largest su­per­mar­ket chains. It will launch the prod­uct in 700 stores na­tion­wide on July 24. But some branches, like the one in Eaux- Vives, are al­ready selling it.

While sev­eral U. S. pro­duc­ers in states with le­gal­ized mar­i­juana of­fer pre- rolled cannabis joints, they are sold in spe­cial­ized out­lets. Heimat, on the other hand, is the “first and only ci­garette con­tain­ing cannabis that is sold in a reg­u­lar su­per­mar­ket,” ac­cord­ing to its Swiss man­u­fac­tur­ers, Koch & Gsell.

In Switzer­land, cannabis can con­tain up to 1% of THC, which is higher than the 0.2% le­gal limit in many other na­tions.

The man­u­fac­turer warns on its web­site that “the cig­a­rettes should not be taken abroad, as this may re­sult in pros­e­cu­tion due to the dif­fer­ences in the per­mis­si­ble THC lim­its in other coun­tries.”

But since the new cig­a­rettes con­tain a rel­a­tively low level of THC — 4 grams in a pack of 20 — smok­ers should not ex­pect to get high, the man­u­fac­turer said.

That is not the ef­fect Fer­rera de­scribed. “I def­i­nitely felt more mel­low and re­laxed,” she re­ported.

While the THC may be low, the ci­garette con­tains a high, 20% level of CBD, a sub­stance be­lieved to re­lieve pain, in­flam­ma­tion, and of­fer other health ben­e­fits.

Coop is selling th­ese cig­a­rettes “be­cause there is big de­mand for hemp prod­ucts,” com­pany spokes­woman An­gela Wim­mer told USA TO­DAY.


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