3. The Swiss pilot trials with cannabis – evaluation after one year
Introduction and aims: From 15 May 2021 the Swiss Federal Narcotics Act allows pilot trials involving the dispensing of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes. These trials should create the basis for the future legal regulation. The aim is to increase knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of controlled access to cannabis. Participating users will be able to legally purchase various quality-controlled cannabis-based products. As well as receiving product information, participants will be made aware of the risks of cannabis consumption by trained staff at the points of sale. The supply chains, from seed to product distribution, will be monitored and strictly controlled, thus excluding the black market. The pilot trials require strict protection of minors and health protection, and a total ban on advertising.
Approach: Pilot trials can be conducted by private or public organisations such as universities, local authorities, research institutes, associations or foundations. A recognised research institute must be involved in each pilot trial. The licence holders for pilot trials will be required to provide the Swiss federal office of public health with an annual progress update and record the results of the trials in a research report. The federal office will inform the public periodically about ongoing pilot trials.
Key findings: Pilot trials have not yet started but several are in the pipeline (January 2022)
Discussions: An overview will be given of the background, objectives and outlines of the pilot trials and the state of play of the annual report. Experiences in Switzerland may inform scientists and policy makers in other countries where cannabis policies are evolving.