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French Town Wants To Launch Cannabis Pilot Program

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By many measures, the concept of a cannabis commerce pilot program is a relatively new thing. While they are already in existence in Europe, it is only in recent years that they seem to have entered the mainstream policy reform conversation on the continent.

Switzerland has embraced the cannabis commerce pilot program more than any other nation so far. A cannabis commerce pilot program involves a jurisdiction being permitted to allow limited cannabis sales as part of ongoing government social science research.

In theory, by allowing limited cannabis sales, data can be collected, and the analysis of that local data can then help lawmakers and regulators be better suited to craft national cannabis policies. Cannabis commerce pilot programs have their limitations to be sure, however, for participants, it effectively results in legalized cannabis and the freedoms that go with it. Additionally, the concept is EU-approved and does not run afoul of EU agreements (unlike national legalization).

France has historically moved much slower on cannabis reform compared to some of its European counterparts, but if one small town has its way, it will launch its own cannabis commerce pilot program sooner rather than later. Per Newsweed:

The mayor of Bègles, a small town of 30,000 inhabitants close to Bordeaux, wants to make his city a territory for experimenting with the supervised legalization of cannabis.

Mayor Clément Rossignol Puech’s proposal to experiment with the production, sale and consumption of cannabis in Bègles has its origins in two recent reports: one from the Information Mission on the Uses of Cannabis, held to the National Assembly in 2021, and the other to the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) in 2023. These two reports came out in favor of a supervised legalization of cannabis.

While it is never easy to guarantee anything in the cannabis world, it does seem in increasing fashion that the cannabis commerce pilot program model is here to stay in Europe. Pilot programs are the focus of ‘phase 2’ of legalization in Germany according to the current plan, and pilot discussions in other countries appear to be heating up as well.

Pilot programs are clearly not as good as national legalization, such as what is found in Canada. However, when coupled with noncommercial clubs and home cultivation, such as what is being proposed in Germany, it can provide a significant amount of freedom to cannabis consumers. Hopefully other lawmakers join Mayor Clément Rossignol Puech’s push for pilot programs in France.

Bègles, France