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Switzerland Adult-Use Cannabis Pilot Program Delayed By ‘Quality Issues’

Switzerland has worked to launch a pilot adult-use cannabis program in various jurisdictions, including in Basel where the country’s first pilot program was set to launch today. A pilot program involves making cannabis commerce legal for adult-use purposes for some people in limited instances.

The goal of pilot programs, which are popping up in Europe, is to help countries gain insight into adult-use cannabis policies and regulations at a local level in order to be better suited to craft laws and regulations at the national level.

Denmark already has pilot programs in place and is working to expand pilot programs to more markets within its national borders. The Netherlands also has plans for launching a pilot program, however, that program has experienced a number of setbacks. Unfortunately, it appears that the pilot project in Basel, Switzerland is also experiencing delays. Per Swiss Info:

The ‘Weed Care’ experiment in the city of Basel was supposed to launch on September 15. But it has been put on hold because traces of pesticides were found in some of the supposedly organic plants.

Basel’s health department said on Friday that the delay could last several weeks or even months as products must now be analysed again by an independent body.

On one hand, it would obviously be nice to see the pilot program launching today. Yet, on the other hand, no one wants to consume tainted cannabis products, so a delay is warranted. It is worth noting that Switzerland has allowed the legal sales of low-THC cannabis products nationwide since 2017.

basel, Switzerland

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Basel, Switzerland Becomes First Canton To Kick Off Recreational Cannabis Trial

The trial will allow up to 400 participants to buy their cannabis in pharmacies – in exchange for being study participants

Here is the great news. Switzerland is moving ahead with its recreational cannabis trial. The first canton to be approved by the federal government, Basel, will allow a very limited number of adults (over 18) to buy and consume cannabis legally, beginning in September.

Here are the other prerequisites. Participants will have to participate in a formal study over the next 2.5 years to determine the impact of consumption on their physical and mental health. Participants will also not be allowed to resell the cannabis they purchase. Anyone who does will be both penalized and ejected from the study.

Other municipalities, including Zurich, Geneva, and Bern all still have their applications pending – but are also expected to be given the green light in the near term.

According to official estimates, there are about 220,000 regular recreational cannabis users in Switzerland. This seems a bit low in a country of about 8.5 million people. Everywhere else, cannabis users represent about 10% of the population. However, other places, especially in North America, have not segmented out medical vs recreational users as their markets get going.

Only time will tell.

Medical cannabis is legal in Switzerland – however, just like in other places, it remains extremely expensive and hard to come by. Physicians must obtain special approval to prescribe and at present, there are only 2 pharmacies allowed to dispense it.

Why Does the Swiss Trial Matter?

For those used to legalization in other jurisdictions, the Swiss approach seems a bit limited and more than a lot complicated and bureaucratic. However, it represents, in its own way, an important step in Europe towards recreational reform, which has been fought if not delayed almost everywhere by authorities and politicians alike.

This trial will, undoubtedly, reveal what those in North America already know, albeit with less formal data to support it. Namely, those who consume cannabis are not criminals, couch potatoes, or drawn from the dregs of society.

Beyond this, however, a formal trial will begin to finally and definitively answer many of the questions if not counter persistent stereotypes that are still being thrown about by those who oppose the inevitable. Namely consuming cannabis is less harmful than alcohol, and those who consume other illicit drugs, along with prescription substances, tend to use less of these as they transition to cannabis.

Of course, the trial is also being avidly watched just about everywhere else in Europe where the question of legalization is a burning political issue, no matter how many people downplay its importance.

The data from the Swiss trial is also likely to show up in every debate going forward, starting with DACH trading partner Germany.

basel, Switzerland

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