USA TODAY International Edition

High in the Alps: Swiss supermarke­ts sell something extra

Cigarette ‘ tastes like a real joint,’ buyer says

- 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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