Cannabis pilot programs are part of an interesting public policy concept that is springing up in Europe. Essentially, cannabis pilot programs provide for limited adult-use cannabis commerce in a designated area and research from the pilot programs provide insight to lawmakers for if/when they craft national cannabis laws and regulations.
A cannabis pilot program already exists in Copenhagen, Denmark and lawmakers there are trying to expand pilot programs to other cities in the European country. All cannabis for Copenhagen’s pilot program is domestically produced.
Two other European countries previously announced plans to launch their own pilot programs, the Netherlands and Switzerland, although both countries have experienced setbacks. For the pilot program in Basel, Switzerland specifically, domestic cannabis failing to meet stringent pesticide requirements has resulted in the program looking elsewhere to source it’s cannabis, particularly in Canada. Per SRF News:
Possibilities of importing hemp from neighboring countries were clarified. According to the health department, the focus was on Germany. But because no solution was found, the Basel company switched to imports from Canada. “Canada has individual suppliers who legally sell organic hemp products.”
The ball is now in the hands of the Federal Office of Public Health, which grants approval for the pilot test and must also approve the import. Investigations are ongoing. “Whether a possible import is eligible for a permit, we can determine if there is a corresponding application or after its examination,” says the Federal Office.
How cannabis is sourced for adult-use commerce is tricky, which is being demonstrated by the ongoing effort in Germany to legalize adult-use cannabis sales. Germany is reportedly going to source all of the cannabis for its eventual adult-use market domestically. Apparently lawmakers and regulators seem to feel that while cannabis can be imported and exported for research and medical use, it cannot be imported for adult-use sales.
What is being proposed in Basel is somewhat interesting, in that someone could make a strong argument that the cannabis is indeed for research purposes, albeit to research whether adult-use sales can be properly regulated at a local level prior to being regulated at a national level. Only time will tell if the request in Switzerland is granted, and if so, what it would mean for other pilot programs.