Swiss City of Lausanne to Launch Recreational Cannabis Trial This Fall

The southern Swiss city of Lausanne appears to be the second after Basel to proceed with recreational reform this year.

Cann-L (or Cannabis Lausanne), the four-year recreational cannabis trial, will be launched by the end of the year, according to municipal councillor Emilie Moeschler who spoke to the press on Tuesday, “In Lausanne, as in other cities, cannabis is very present … It is essential for cities to launch such experimental studies to address the issue in an objective and dispassionate way,” he said. He also stressed that the city “has already shown, in 2018, its interest in a pilot experiment with the federal authorities in order to change its policy in this area.”

The city is now on track to become the second in the country after Basel, to proceed with a recreational cannabis trial. Bern, Geneva, and Zurich are also in the process of developing their own projects. The May 15, 2021, amendment of the Federal Narcotics Act allowed these five cities to proceed.

Lausanne: Similar, But Different

In Lausanne, allowed products will be sold in a dedicated store run by the non-profit Cann-L. Unlike German-speaking parts of the country which have chosen to use pharmacies for the trial, Lausanne’s entry into the conversation will be more like the Spanish idea of a cannabis club.

All hemp sold in the facility will have to meet two requirements—being both grown locally and produced in organic environments.

The police will monitor the facility, identify the cannabis being sold and differentiate products sold legally vs. the black market.

Consumption is not allowed in public, and of course, customers may not resell to third parties.

Pricing has been designed to match the black market—namely flower will retail for between 10-13 francs per gram. Participants will not be allowed to purchase more than 10 grams a month.

Study participants (aka customers) will be required to have residency in Lausanne and, further, already use cannabis. Eligibility for participation can be found here—although the project is not yet accepting applicants. The city as well as Addiction Switzerland (chosen to conduct the scientific aspects of the trial) will submit their plan to the canton’s ethics commission and the Federal Office of Public Health by the end of May.

The study is expected to cost around $390,000 per year—or about $1.5 million over the course of five years.

The Impact of The Swiss Trials

As is already being seen in the diverse nature of the canton approach to such trials, both the pharmacy first and dispensary first models are being trialed in Switzerland in a way that is bound to attract the attention of every other European country now considering recreational reform. This starts with Germany, right across a common border, which also shares a special trade alliance with Switzerland (and Austria) known as DACH.

The fact that the Swiss will have data as soon as the end of the year will also, no doubt, shape the discussion, in at least Germany, about how to allow individual states to have some say about how recreational reform will unfold in their local jurisdictions.

  1. It will not be allowed to buy more than 10 gramms thc in total per month (not 10 gramms of flowers.) So 50 gramms of flowers with 20% THC.

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