On March 31, 2021, it became clear that pilot cannabis dispensaries could be approved by the FOPH starting in mid-May. Following the National Council and the Council of States, the Federal Council also approved this amendment to the Narcotics Act, which is intended to provide new insights into health and consumption patterns in the context of legal offerings.
The thrust of this amendment is clearly going in the right direction. It is about time that Switzerland also gains experience with a legal sale of cannabis – but we should not forget to benefit from experience from abroad, for example Canada. We do not have to start all the attempts from the beginning again.
Participants in the pilot tests must be of legal age and must be proven to already be using cannabis. The amount purchased is paid by the consumer, whereby the price is higher with higher THC content and at least initially should still be significantly higher than the black market price. Resale of legally purchased goods is thus deliberately made unattractive. Furthermore, the monthly purchase amount is limited and a transfer of the legally acquired cannabis products is not allowed.
The cultivation of the products for the pilot projects is to be carried out according to the criteria of organic agriculture, thus ensuring the impeccable quality of the products. Even though the idea behind this concern is very much in line with ours, they will have to go over the books again on this point in the Federal Parliament. An indoor production facility does not even have the possibility to grow organic products according to today’s organic standards, as the use of artificial light is mandatory.
Furthermore, the personal data of the participants should also be well protected. In principle, no data are passed on to third parties and even anonymized data are only used for the evaluation of the projects by the participating research bodies and the FOPH. This is very important, as a possible stigmatization of the participants (for example, through the in the meantime proposed and later rejected obligation to report to schools and employers) would unnecessarily jeopardize the benefit and success of the trials. In our opinion, the above mentioned conditions of participation are sufficient to prevent possible negative effects of the project (damage to health or strengthening of the black market).
We are looking forward to further decisions from the federal government, which can bring forward working alternatives to the current prohibition policy, and will of course keep you informed.