Zurich Officials Release Cannabis Legalization Pilot Program Details

Zurich switzerland

Switzerland is at the forefront of cannabis policy in many ways, not the least of which is the widespread availability of low-THC cannabis products.

Starting in 2017 cannabis consumers have been able to legally purchase cannabis products that contain less than 1% THC. In 2019 a Swiss Federal Administrative Court ruled that the taxation of such products was legal, further paving the way for a booming industry.

The low-THC products may not be as strong as cannabis available in some other countries, however, they are still extremely popular with consumers and even some patients, and stronger products are on their way to some markets in Switzerland.

Back in May amendments to Switzerland’s Narcotics Act took effect. The amendments provided for legal adult-use cannabis pilot programs in Switzerland. Zurich is one of the cities that is taking part in the pilot research programs and its pilot will begin next year.

The pilot program in Zurich will run for three and a half years as part of a greater research program to help lawmakers craft federal policies and industry regulations. Basel, Bern, Lucerne, and Geneva are also launching their own related pilot programs.

For Zurich specifically, the City of Zurich is partnering with the Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich and the Zurich Pharmacy Network, with study participants acquiring their cannabis from pharmacies and ‘social clubs.’

As part of the study, cannabis producers will be required to obtain a production permit from the Switzerland Federal Office of Public Health. Below is more information via a press release from the City of Zurich (translated to English):

Regulated Cannabis Sales: The Zurich Study

Once the legal basis is in place, the City of Zurich is launching the “Züri Can – Cannabis with Responsibility” pilot project together with the Zurich University Psychiatric Clinic. The effects of regulated cannabis use are being researched in a three-and-a-half year study. The cannabis study is intended to provide the basis for appropriate cannabis legislation at the federal level.

For years, the City of Zurich and the Psychiatric University Clinic in Zurich have been committed to an objective and low-risk approach to cannabis use. In mid-May 2021, amendments to the Narcotics Act came into force, which enable pilot tests for regulated cannabis sales. On this legal basis, the Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich, in cooperation with the City of Zurich, wants to research models of the regulated procurement of cannabis and its effects on the health and consumption behavior of the consumer. The aim of the Zurich study is to provide relevant knowledge on the best possible use of cannabis. The study is intended to promote public health, maintain public safety and support the protection of minors.

Responsibility for production, prevention and consumption

The Zurich cannabis study “Züri Can – Cannabis with Responsibility” is intended to show what effects the sale of standardized and tested cannabis products at approved outlets with health and prevention concepts has on cannabis users. The study creates framework conditions that promote the responsible use of cannabis at all levels – production, prevention and consumption.

Reference points with a focus on health promotion

The study participants will be able to obtain their study cannabis from pharmacies and social clubs. Variously designed purchase options allow valuable conclusions to be drawn about the different consumer groups. The points of reference should be given a great deal of leeway so that the most realistic forms of regulated access to cannabis can be researched. The Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich is investigating which sales outlets can be used to achieve the long-term goal of promoting public and individual health and safety. At all purchase points, value is placed on personal and health-promoting advice and on responding to individual needs. The aim is always to keep the health risks for consumers as low as possible.

Tested products for responsible consumers

The producers of the study cannabis must have a production permit from the Federal Office of Public Health. Only cannabis that meets high quality standards is produced. The aim is organic quality and local production. Various cannabis products are offered in the study, each with a different THC / CBD content. This makes it possible to switch to lower-risk products during the study period. The participants can consume cannabis more health-consciously and responsibly, because the ingredients of the products are of impeccable quality and are shown transparently. In order to record the health and social situation and its developments, the participants are questioned at regular intervals.

Looking for pharmacies and social clubs

The study management is now looking for interested pharmacies and interested parties who would like to found and operate a social club. They can contact the head of studies by the end of the year and apply for participation as a reference point (stadt-zuerich.ch/cannabisprojekt). Cannabis is expected to be available to study participants from autumn 2022.

(Joint media release by the City of Zurich, the Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich and the Zurich Pharmacy Network)

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