Pilot programs seem to be a popular approach to cannabis legalization in Europe. For instance, Switzerland has a cannabis legalization pilot program in which cannabis is legal for adult use and commerce purposes in a handful of cities. The Netherlands has a similar program.
The goal of a cannabis legalization pilot program is to ‘ease’ a country into legalization by rolling things out in a limited fashion rather than legalizing nationwide all at once, such as how Canada implemented legalization. Public policy and health experts can then study what is happening at a local level and, in theory, be better suited to recommend nationwide policies.
A cannabis pilot program like the one described exists in Copenhagen, and if a coalition of lawmakers has its way, cannabis legalization pilot programs will be implemented in other parts of Denmark as well. Per Mugglehead:
Danish officials across five political parties have proposed a plan for an adult-use cannabis pilot similar to a program underway in its capital city.
Earlier this month, the proposal was presented in Danish Parliament instructing the government to start legislative work that will result in a bill that legalizes cannabis for five years.
According to submitted documentation, that bill will look like one put forth in Copenhagen with sales at state-controlled outlets, and it’s legal for citizens to buy, possess, grow and consume cannabis for personal use.
Other provisions of the pilot program reportedly include a way for jurisdictions in Denmark to sign up for the program, all cannabis would be domestically produced, retail staff would be trained and licensed, the legal age would be set at 18 years old, and retail sales would be limited to residents.
I personally feel that five years is too long for the pilot program to run, and that cannabis should be legalized nationally well before that timeline is up. However, I suppose that it’s possible that so many jurisdictions will sign up for the pilot program that it could spread things up considerably. It’s definitely great news for the jurisdictions that implement the policy change.
The incremental approach is not optimal, however, it is better than maintaining nationwide prohibition. As I have always stated regarding cannabis activism – if you can’t legalize nationally, focus locally. Every local reform victory adds to the victory pile and further builds the momentum for a national reform victory.