By Emily Ledger
Switzerland’s National Council has announced its agreement with guidelines set out for a study of a recreational cannabis distribution scheme. The scheme will aim to assess the potential effects of a system of controlled recreational cannabis use in the country.
As well as helping to understand and combat the country’s cannabis black market, researchers hope that the findings from the study will support the further liberalisation of cannabis in Switzerland. Furthermore, it is hoped that research will provide insight into the effects of recreational cannabis use on society.
The National Council, the lower chamber of Switzerland’s parliament, has approved guidelines for the study by a majority of 113 votes to 81. However, the motion will now be referred to the Council of States for full approval.
What are the Guidelines?
A number of Swiss cities have shown an interest in taking part in the study, including Geneva, Bern, and Zurich. The committee has set out strict guidelines for the study, including an age limit, participant cap, and timeline.
Participants must be at least 18 years of age, and be able to prove that they are already cannabis users – for example, through a hair sample. The participants must also be constantly monitored, with health checks and ongoing support available to them.
The House of the People implemented further guidelines for the protection of participants. THC limits were also set at 20% for cannabis used for the study. Participants will also not be required to inform their employers and/or schools about their participation in the study. Finally, participants will also be guaranteed that they will not face a driving ban for their participation.
Objections to the Guidelines
Although the motion was passed by the National Council, there were some members who think that these guidelines are still not strict enough.
For example, according to Verena Herzog (UDC / TG), stricter guidelines would help to avoid health risks to participants. This opinion is also shared by another member of the National Council, Benjamin Roduit (PDC / VS), who insisted that drug use is harmful and that these guidelines for the cannabis distribution scheme do not contain measures to protect young people.
The Cannabis Distribution Scheme
In addition to approving the study, the National Council also added one detail into the plan. The cannabis used in the scheme, should be sourced entirely from Swiss organic farming in order to benefit Swiss farmers. However, it has been raised that this measure will add to the timeline of the scheme, as few farmers in the country have experience in this area. It is expected that it will take a significant amount of time to obtain viable cannabis products.
Other countries around the world are also taking significant steps to further liberalise cannabis. For example, In 2019, lawmakers in Luxembourg announced plans to legalise recreational cannabis. In addition, voters in New Zealand will decide in September whether to legalise the drug.