Switzerland’s experiment with adult-use cannabis pilot programs is reportedly expanding, with Zurich’s city government and the Zurich University Hospital indicating today that the Federal Office of Public Health has given the ‘greenlight’ for the local pilot program to proceed later this year.
A cannabis pilot program is, in theory, designed to permit limited local cannabis commerce for the purpose of gaining insight and helping craft potential national cannabis industry laws, rules, and regulations. It gives lawmakers and regulators the opportunity to see what works and what does not work at the local level to help them be better suited to create and implement national policies.
Zurich will not be the first jurisdiction in Switzerland to launch limited adult-use sales as part of a pilot program. Back in early February Basel, Switzerland launched its pilot program with 180 participants after experiencing various delays. The Basel program will eventually involve 374 people total, all aged between 18 and 76.
The pilot program in Zurich, which is the result of a legal amendment adopted by the Swiss parliament in 2020 allowing for adult-use cannabis trials, will be considerably larger than the one in Basel. However, it will still be very limited in size compared to other legal adult-use markets around the globe. Per Swiss Info:
The project, Zuri Can – Cannabis with Responsibility, is intended to study the impact of regulated cannabis supply on the consumption and health of consumers.
The project was delayed last October following objections by the health office.
The sale of cannabis products from pharmacies and social clubs to control groups is now due to begin next August.
A maximum of 2,100 participants can take part in the large-scale pilot project in Switzerland’s biggest city.
Meanwhile, right on the other side of the border between Switzerland and Germany, adult-use cannabis legalization is on the move at the national level. It will be very interesting to see if/when Germany legalizes cannabis for adult use and launches regulated sales nationwide how it may affect Switzerland’s pilot programs.
Presumably, at least some amount of consumers that would have otherwise participated in a Switzerland pilot program will instead go to Germany to make their cannabis purchases.
Even for those that participate in the program at home, many will still travel to Germany for various reasons and consume cannabis there instead of back in Switzerland, and that may skew the results of the cannabis trials, at least to some degree. Switzerland would be better served by passing its own national cannabis legalization measure.