By LeeWEpstein

February 5, 2020

The penultimate step before setting up a pilot trial for cannabis distribution?

The National Health Commission followed the opinion of the National Council and voted by 17 votes to 8 in favor of a pilot project to distribute cannabis to voluntary consumers. As the Swiss federal parliament is composed of two chambers, the approval of the Council of States is now required before any progress can be made on the subject.

What does this experiment consist of?

The Swiss initiative dates from 2016 and aims to propose an experimental framework for the distribution of cannabis to adult consumers. After many political twists and turns, with the various commissions and councils voting alternately for and against the proposal, the pilot project will finally see the light of day.

Participation in the pilot project will only be open to adults who are at least 18 years of age and who are already users. The project will be limited to certain cities (Basel, Bern, Geneva, and Zurich), with no more than 5000 participants, who will be medically monitored to assess their state of health, and THC levels will be limited to 20%, with a supply limit of 10 grams of pure THC per month, i.e. 50 grams of cannabis at 20% THC. The project will last 5 years, extendable for 2 years.

The cultivation of cannabis THC will take place in Switzerland and will have to be organic.

The Swiss government is said to have already drafted the implementing ordinance, which sets the strict framework for the project, without any indication for the time being of a date for referral to the Council of States.

What is blocking it?

The Swiss narcotics law allows the distribution of controlled substances, for example, heroin for drug addicts and as part of a social integration program.

However, the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP) has ruled that this controlled distribution is impossible for cannabis. It, therefore, requested a change in the law to allow these experiments, which should be used to gather data on the consumption of legal cannabis and its impact on the black market.

This refusal by the OFSP is at the origin of these 4 years of rebounds. From now on, the project must go from commission to commission to satisfy the enacted needs of the experimentation, without addressing the need to change the Narcotics Law or the ins and outs of legalizing cannabis.

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