Europe’s first legal cannabis dispensaries are expected to be open by the end of the year as Switzerland launches a sixth adult-use pilot project.
The Swiss Institute for Addiction and Health Research (ISGF) and Sanity Group have received the final approval from the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) to conduct a cannabis pilot study in Basel-Landschaft (Baselland), following approval from the Ethics Committee Northwest and Central Switzerland (EKNZ) last year.
Up to 3,950 healthy adults living in the canton of Basel-Landschaft will be able to participate in the study, which is designed to examine the regulated sale of cannabis for non-medical purposes.
It is the sixth pilot for the sale of adult-use cannabis in Switzerland that has now been given the green light.
However, unlike other pilots, dispensing will not take place via pharmacies or clubs, but via stores as a point of sale.
Europe’s first legal shop for consumer cannabis is being set up in the municipality of Allschwil. Another store in Liestal will follow in the coming months, where consumers can purchase various cannabis products such as flowers, extracts, hashish, edibles and vape liquids.
Gaining insights into the use of cannabis
The study is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023 and will run for five years.
Led by Professor Dr Michael Schaub, Scientific Director of the ISGF, it will record the consumption behaviour as well as the physical and mental health of the participants.
“After an initial information event to educate about the trial and how to deal with cannabis, a medical aptitude test of the potential participants will follow, as well as an online entry survey, explains Prof Schaub.
“If successfully accepted into the study, cannabis can then be obtained legally at the point of sale for a limited time in the future with a participation card. Continuous surveys on consumption behaviour and the physical and mental health of the participants will take place every three to six months.”
The societal effects of consumption, especially on public safety and order will be analysed through a close exchange and integration of relevant focus groups such as the public prosecutor’s office.
He adds: “The insights gained from the study can contribute to an informed health policy discussion on the responsible use of cannabis and serve as a basis for decisions on long-term regulation.
“In addition, we want to investigate whether we can gain better access to high-risk users with, for example, mental health problems, in order to refer them to appropriate cantonal care centres.”
Locally grown cannabis
All cannabis products will be produced according to the quality requirements of the BetmPV and the organic guidelines in Switzerland by the Swiss cultivation partner SwissExtract.
Prices for cannabis flowers are said to range between 8 and 12 CHF, depending on the THC content.
Stefan Strasser, CEO of SwissExtract, said: “Our claim is to provide high-quality products with high delivery reliability as the basis for a sound scientific study. We focus on organic quality, ‘Swissness’ and transparency.”
“As only natural substances are used in the cultivation of our basic raw material, we guarantee pollutant-free products. The entire value chain is united under one roof with us – cultivation, processing and packaging take place exclusively in Switzerland; in addition, we document the production process from the plant seed to the end product. SwissExtract is a life’s work for us, with sincerity towards people and the environment.”
“Results of international interest”
In recent months, leading European cannabis company, Sanity Group, has been working with regional and national authorities to get this ambitious project off the ground.
Finn Hänsel, CEO of Sanity Group, commented: “We are pleased about the approval for the study in Baselland and the opportunity to make our contribution to social acceptance and knowledge transfer around the cannabis plant and its versatile uses. Our ambition to support the ISGF pilot project with our knowledge and experience as an internationally positioned cannabis company is primarily based on the promotion of research in the field of cannabis.
“Since the company was founded, our goal has been to further research the benefits of cannabis and destigmatise the plant. Together with the ISGF, we are developing concepts for safe sales based on health protection, youth protection and prevention. We expect interesting findings from the study – the results will be of international interest.”
More information about the project can be found at www.grashausprojects.ch.
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