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Switzerland Cannabis Pilot Programs Set To Expand

Bern Switzerland

Switzerland is home to a cannabis commerce public policy experiment that is based on a concept which is seemingly growing in popularity in policy and regulatory circles. The concept, limited regional cannabis commerce pilot projects, is already in operation in Basel, Switzerland where 374 people between the ages of 18 and 76 can make legal adult-use cannabis purchases.

Additional pilot programs were approved for Zurich, Geneva, Lausanne, and Bern, with Bern’s pilot program set to launch this fall. The pilot program in Bern ‘plans to recruit 1,091 participants, including approximately 600 in the federal city’ according to domestic reporting.

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city with a population of roughly 400,000 people, although the overall metro area pushes that number considerably higher. Zurich’s pilot program is expected to launch at the end of the summer and will involve 3,000 participants when fully operational. Participants will be able to make legal cannabis purchases from an expected 21 regulated outlets in Zurich.

Switzerland is not the only nation pursuing plans for regional pilot programs. Officials in Denmark are pursuing their own plans, and Germany is likely to eventually become the largest embracer of such public policy efforts. German lawmakers are working right now to hammer out details that will serve as the foundation for the nation’s pilot programs.

Officials in Frankfurt and Offenbach have already declared their intentions to launch pilot programs, and they are surely not alone. Germany will not be the first place where pilot programs are launched, however, the nation that serves as home to the largest economy in Europe will likely prove to be the place where pilot programs become the most common, and on a much larger scale than what will be found in Switzerland.

The expansion of pilot programs in Switzerland is worthy of celebration to be sure, although the scope of the nation’s pilot programs needs to be kept in proper context. They are very limited in size and are not coupled with noncommercial cannabis clubs like what is being pursued in Germany and proposed in the Czech Republic.

What Switzerland really needs, and this is true for every country on earth, is a robust cannabis policy that ensures safe access to all forms of medical cannabis for suffering patients, and incorporates regulated adult-use commerce for all cannabis products, regardless of THC content, to help boost public health outcomes.