This summer some residents of Zurich will be as high as the alps. The city and the University of Zurich will launch a study titled “Züri Can—Cannabis with Responsibility” that will examine the possibilities and effects of the regulated sale and consumption of the drug among a test group of 2,100 residents.
Switzerland has allowed the sale of medical cannabis with less than 1% THC since 2011. The country decriminalized recreational cannabis possession in 2013, but even consumers caught with less than 10 grams (.35 ounces) can still be fined.
The announcement comes as the legalization of weed in Europe is gaining steam. Germany is expected to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in the coming weeks. Marijuana is largely decriminalized in Germany, but the bill would declassify cannabis as a narcotic, allowing citizens over age 18 to carry up to 30 grams, or just over one ounce, for personal use. Residents would also be allowed to legally grow up to three marijuana plants in their homes and cannabis products could be sold in licensed stores.
Evidence-based cannabis policies
The authors of the Zurich study hope to provide real-world evidence to support policymaking efforts. The results could help draft regulations based on levels of cannabis usage that promote individual and public health and safety. Similar studies with universities are planned to roll out in the coming months. Those studies will run across Switzerland including in Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Geneva, Biel, Thun, Olten, and Winterthur.
France is also undergoing a trial program expected to be complete by March 2024, providing free medical marijuana treatment to 3,000 patients. The country currently only allows cannabis-derived medicines for medical purposes and has a strict approach to recreational use. The country’s policies have mellowed, though. In 2018, France passed new regulations that reduced the penalty for possession of marijuana to a fine of approximately 200 euros.