– Controlled sale of cannabis in Zurich from next autumn
Switzerland’s largest city wants to experience the effects of partially legalizing cannabis use to help better guide policy decisions.
Zurich will launch next fall in the controlled distribution of cannabis in pharmacies and social clubs. For 3.5 years, this trial will provide lessons on the best way to manage consumption. Other cities will do the same.
The study entitled “Zurich Can: cannabis with responsibility” will be led by the Zurich University Psychiatric Clinic, their officials announced on Tuesday to the media gathered at a press conference. It must also promote public health, maintain public security and strengthen the protection of young people, they stressed.
Changing Swiss policy
Researchers must provide an objective basis for discussion in order to guide the evolution of Swiss policy related to cannabis consumption.
This year, the Confederation introduced an experimental article in the federal law on narcotics. This opens the way to pilot trials for the regulated sale of cannabis. Previously, the lack of a legal basis prevented cities like Zurich from implementing their projects, even though the first reflections of the municipal authorities on this subject date back to 2006.
New approach to reduce risk
“A new approach to cannabis policy is long overdue,” insisted Andreas Hauri, Green Liberal member of the Municipality and head of the public health department. In the city of Zurich alone, 140,000 to 150,000 people use cannabis. “The ban on consumption does not prevent consumption and it hampers prevention”, deplores the municipal.
The controlled distribution of cannabis should reduce the risks associated with consumption, explains Marcus Herdener, chief physician at the University Psychiatric Clinic. THC content is random in cannabis sold on the black market. It may also contain hazardous substances. In addition, synthetic cannabinoids that have arrived on this market can cause serious damage to health.
Also in social clubs
Cannabis intended for controlled sale in pharmacies and social clubs will be organic and of Swiss production. It will be standardized and systematically checked. According to the directives of the Confederation, its price should correspond to that practiced on the black market.
The sale in pharmacies will guarantee the care of customers by qualified personnel, estimates Valeria Dora, president of the network of pharmacies of Zurich. As for the social clubs which will bring together individuals selling and consuming cannabis together, they will make it possible to reach those who prefer to avoid official places.
Ten grams per month maximum
Those responsible for the study are now looking for pharmacies and people willing to found and manage a social club. They hope to be able to count on ten pharmacies and ten social clubs within a year, bringing together between 50 and 100 consumers each. The test clientele will be “recruited” from next August. She must be at least 18 years old, live in the canton and already smoke cannabis regularly.
Customers will be able to purchase a maximum of 10 grams of THC cannabis per month. The products will be sold in different varieties of strengths and tastes. The “guinea pigs” will have a special identity document which will distinguish them in the event of a police check and will authorize them to buy cannabis in places of controlled sale, to possess it and to consume it.
Also in other cities
From Geneva to St. Gallen, several other Swiss cities are interested in the experiment within the framework of similar studies. They will also launch their projects in the coming months, says Morten Keller, member of an inter-city working group.