The U.S. House of Commons passed the Marijuana Reform Act this spring, which would legalize cannabis nationwide. Things are also moving in Switzerland: In Basel and elsewhere, preparations for pilot tests on the legal sale of cannabis are in full swing. The canton of Solothurn is calling for a carefully crafted new regulation, i.e. legalization, of cannabis. However, the cantonal efforts could soon be overtaken: The implementation of the Siegenthaler parliamentary initiative, which calls for a new national regulation of cannabis legislation, has cleared another hurdle to implementation.
The initiative of National Councillor Heinz Siegenthaler currently represents the core of political work with regard to cannabis legislation. Basically, it is about drafting a new law that would regulate a legal cannabis market in Switzerland. What the parliamentary initiative demands in more detail can be read in our blog post about it. A few weeks ago, at the beginning of June 2022, a “Subcommission ‘Cannabis Regulation'” has now been created. The sub-commission of the SGK-N is composed of 9 members of all major parties and has the mandate to elaborate a concrete legislative proposal. When the draft for such a “cannabis law” will be available is hard to estimate at the moment. Siegenthaler’s goal is to have a draft law by the end of 2023 and a finished law by 2025. However, the effective timetable depends on many factors, and the clout of opponents of legalization in particular is difficult to gauge at this time.
An important contribution to a new cannabis law will come from the cantons. Thus, much will depend on the results of the “pilot tests”, which will start soon. The pilot trials allow for the legal sale of cannabis containing THC in a protected setting. This summer, the first trials will start in the city of Basel. The search is on for 400 people who want to buy state-owned cannabis. The trial participants will be accompanied by the University Psychiatric Clinics in order to gather the most meaningful results possible on the effects of legal sales. The rapid availability of such data is of great relevance for the drafting of the cannabis law and can significantly speed up the process.
The canton of Solothurn is also stepping on the gas: at the end of May, the government council passed a communication in which the canton calls for the legalization of cannabis. The demands are quite congruent with the demands of Siegenthaler’s parliamentary initiative. Nevertheless, the canton is considering sending a standing initiative to Bern to increase pressure for a speedy drafting of the cannabis law.
For us as Herba di Berna AG it is clear that the above-mentioned efforts are gratifying. Consumers will be better protected by a legal market and the associated quality controls, and the often seemingly arbitrary state repression will be reorganized. Society can use funds elsewhere that are currently health care costs and costs of repression. Furthermore, a legal market can be taxed appropriately to cover – analogous to tobacco – the protection of minors, consumer protection, prevention campaigns and other costs. We are excited to see how the process continues and try to keep you updated on this complex topic.