Controlled weed smoking in Switzerland: This is what lies behind the pilot projects

Around 750,000 joints are smoked in Switzerland every day. According to a study by the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG), over 200,000 people regularly consume cannabis. Despite illegality. The police, judiciary and penal system spend 120 million francs a year in connection with cannabis.

Reason enough for the Swiss Parliament to think about the future social handling of cannabis in Switzerland. The first pilot tests are intended to provide the scientific basis for new regulations.

The current debate in Swiss drug policy focuses on the liberalization of cannabis, not on complete legalization as in Germany, for example.

More insights through controlled pilot projects

With an amendment to the Narcotics Act, Switzerland has created the legal framework for the controlled distribution of cannabis as part of pilot tests from May 15, 2021. Cannabis will be sold for recreational purposes through selected pharmacies and so-called social clubs.

To this end, a whole series of pilot studies were initiated in various cantons in Switzerland. The first pilot projects, such as the “Züri Can” project in Zurich city, have already started in 2023.

We at SwissExtract are able to support the “Züri Can” project in the city of Zurich with our organic cannabis of the highest purity as the preferred supplier, and we are the main supplier for the “Grashaus Projects” project in the canton of Basel-Landschaft.

Further cannabis pilot trials in other parts of Switzerland will start shortly. The largest attempt to sell cannabis will begin in Switzerland from May 2024. A total of 34 Zurich communities will be able to legally purchase and consume cannabis as part of the study, carried out by the “Swiss Cannabis Research” association. The project is a complement to current research in Zurich.

Interested people have the opportunity to apply as study participants. Here is an overview of the current Swiss pilot tests.

Overview of cannabis pilot projects in Switzerland:

Canton of Basel-Stadt
Project name: WeedCare
Start: since January 30, 2023

Zurich city
Project name: Züri Can
Start: since March 2023

Canton of Basel-Land
Project name: Grashaus Projects
Start: since November 2023

Project name: Cann-L
Start: since December 2023

Bern, Biel and Lucerne
Project name: SCRIPT
Start: since February 2024

Canton of Zurich (34 municipalities)
Project name: Swiss Cannabis Research
Start: from May 2, 2024

Canton of Geneva
Project name: La Cannabinothèque
Start: unknown

Aim of the pilot projects

The Swiss pilot tests pursue several goals. On the one hand, we hope to gain insight into the effects of controlled cannabis sales on the population's consumption behavior.

Experts warn about the risks of cannabis use, especially for young people. Studies in the field of brain research show that cannabis consumption changes the brain structure of young people.

It is known from other studies that regular consumption increases the risk of developing psychoses, especially in young people with a genetic predisposition to mental illnesses.

Regular consumption can also lead to dependence in adults and increase the risk of developing psychosis.

In addition to the health effects, the responsible Swiss authorities also hope to gain useful information regarding the black market and the fight against crime.

In addition, the quality and safety of the products should be increased through the regulated and controlled distribution of cannabis products.

New Swiss drug policy

In view of the facts and facts, many see the Swiss drug and cannabis policy as no longer up to date. Developments in other countries are also closely monitored.

But even in Europe and the EU there is disagreement when it comes to drug policy . While countries like Germany recently made people sit up and take notice with partial legalization of cannabis, France, the country with the highest cannabis consumption in all of Europe, remains strict.

In many countries in Europe, the consumption of cannabis is illegal, but is actually tolerated. Even the Scandinavians, who are considered very liberal, don't want to hear about legalization in their countries.

Anyway. Switzerland is moving and would like to gain experience and knowledge with the selected pilot tests. This is a sensible step towards designing a forward-looking, safe and socially responsible cannabis policy based on facts.