Skip to main content

Recreational Cannabis Trial Begins Selecting Participants In Basel, Switzerland

switzerland flag

The Swiss pilot project is due to begin on September 15, allowing 370 people to access cannabis and hash through legal means

“Weed Care,” the first cannabis legalization trial in Switzerland, is a mere fortnight from kicking off. The program, located in the Swiss city of Basel, is now in the process of selecting participants. Authorities will begin contacting successful applicants over the next few weeks. More people have already shown an interest in participating than slots allocated for trial participants. In fact, after online registration was launched last week, close to 600 people signed up.

No matter who is finally selected, residents of the city can continue to register on the website of the pilot project. Prerequisites are that participants must be over 18, not pregnant and can prove that they already use cannabis.

Four tested strains of cannabis flower and two strains of hash will be made available starting on September 15.

Background on Basel’s Cannabis Legalization Trial

The trial is intended to provide information about the extent to which legalization and a move away from the black-market influences’ consumer behaviour and impacts consumer health. Participants will be subject to checks by officials running the experiment.

The Basel city director of Health, Lukas Engelberger has already said that while he would prefer a no-cannabis use policy, prohibition has clearly failed. As a result, the goal of the study is to create a “minimally harmful” regulatory model to create a market which is safe.

Basel is one of five Swiss cities to embark on such a trial. The southern town of Lausanne appears to be the second municipality on track to implement the same – although it will create a trial about three times larger that consists of 1,000 people.

Medical cannabis use became legal on a federal basis in Switzerland as of the end of July. The government made amendments to the national Narcotics Act in May 2021 to allow such trials to proceed.

Could The Swiss Experiment Impact European Reform?

While there have been many naysayers on the German side of the border, it is very likely that the Swiss recreational cannabis trial is likely to influence cannabis legalization discussions in other countries. This does not mean that it will be a carbon copy. For example, in Switzerland, the first distribution of recreational cannabis will happen through pharmacies. That is unlikely to happen in Germany.

However, the idea of starting with limited home grow options as well as specific city trials, albeit not necessarily with limited participation, is very likely to be adopted across borders – potentially starting in places like both Germany as well as Luxembourg and Malta.