Switzerland will start adult-use cannabis sales this summer over a trial program that will involve 400 people. On the 19th of April, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) authorized the first pilot on the sale of cannabis for recreational use.
The initiative is a joint project with the University of Basel and will also take place in the third most popular city in the country, Basel. The study on the legal sale of adult-use cannabis aims to educate to regulate cannabis in the whole country.
The pilot program is intended to provide information and educate consumers about low-risk consumption, knowledge, and benefits of the effects of controlled access to cannabis, and information on consumers’ behavior and physical and mental health.
The cannabis sales trial program will follow strict rules. There will be about 400 pre-selected adult volunteers with previous experience in cannabis consumption will be involved in the pilot, and their state of health will be monitored throughout the trial.
All cannabis products must meet high-quality requirements, come from Swiss organic crops, have to be sold in pharmacies, and can’t be advertised.
In an interview with market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners, Dr. Lavinia Flückiger, co-leader of the study, explained that the project was developed in 2016 and was approved by the local scientific ethics committee in 2017. However, it was never able to start due to the lack of a legal basis. But when the Swiss parliament changed narcotics law in 2021, the project got the green light in August 2021.
According to Dr. Flückiger, recruitment of the participants is expected to take place in August 2022, and the trial program will officially start at the end of the month.
Swiss German daily newspaper Blick reported that volunteers would have access to four cannabis strains and two types of hash available in ten selected pharmacies in Basel produced by Switzerland’s cannabis company Pure Holding AG. Prices of cannabis products will match the ones offered by the illegal market: between $8 and $12 per gram, depending on the product and the level of THC.
The project, which involves authorities and researchers from the local government, the University of Basel, and the University Psychiatric Clinics, Basel, will run for two and a half years.
While cannabis with a THC level below 1% (also known as hemp) is legal, growing, importing, producing, or selling cannabis with a high level of THC is prohibited. Personal consumption of up to 10 grams is tolerated. However, law enforcement officers can fine individuals caught using cannabis with a fixed penalty fine of $100.
Swiss authorities recognize widespread consumption and that the illegal market thrives. Therefore, the launch of an adult-use cannabis sale trial program may be the proper response to fight back against the illicit market and safeguard public health.
In fact, the goal of Swiss drug policy is to minimize drug use and its negative consequences. It is based on the four pillars of prevention, therapy, harm reduction, and repression.
One of the brightest examples of such a drug policy is the Heroin Assisted Treatment Program (HAT), which supplies controlled heroin under medical supervision to a limited number of addicts. The program, introduced in 1994, was meant to keep addicts off the streets and reduce crime. However, it soon became a game changer in Switzerland’s drug policy.
It showed to be an efficient alternative to “zero-tolerance” drug policies as it focused on prevention, harm reduction, medical care, and counseling for the drug addicts and their reintegration into society.
What You Need To Know
- There will only be 400 pre-selected volunteers
- Products must meet a high-quality requirement
- Cannabis must be from Swiss organic crops
- Strictly access only via a pharmacy
- Prices start from $8 / $12 per gram – depending on THC levels.
The scientific approach to testing adult-use cannabis in Switzerland follows a series of attempts to review cannabis legislation all across Europe.
According to a 2022 report, 55% of Europeans support legalizing recreational cannabis.