The Swiss city of Bern will join Basel, Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva and legally distribute cannabis later this year.
The Bernese pilot trial for the regulated sale of cannabis in pharmacies, dubbed the Safer Cannabis – Research In Pharmacies randomized controlled Trial (SCRIPT), has just been authorised by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and the Cantonal Commission of Ethics and the Ethics Commission of Northwestern and Central Switzerland.
The three-year study, which will last from October 2023 to April 2026 and be monitored by the Universities of Bern and Lucerne, will aim to assess the health and social effects of selling cannabis in “strictly regulated, non-profit” pharmacies.
It will be carried out in the cities of Bern, Biel and Lucerne and should start “probably in the fall”. The experiment plans to recruit 1,091 participants, including approximately 600 in the federal city.
Only people who already use cannabis for recreational purposes and who are at least 18 years old will be able to participate in the study. Furthermore, only half of the participants will be allowed to buy cannabis products for the first six months.
Measuring the effects of legalisation
According to Reto Auer, head of the SCRIPT study at the University of Bern: “The objective of the study is to test the health and social effects of selling cannabis in strictly regulated, non-profit pharmacies”.
Study participants will only be able to obtain cannabis products, which have been produced specifically for the study, in selected pharmacies. Revenues generated by the pharmacies will only cover their expenses, with the study being run on a non-profit basis.
SCRIPT will test regulations that aim for strict control of supply and demand while allowing risk reduction measures. This means no advertising will be allowed, while the products will be sold in neutral and standardised packaging.
Reto Auer explains : “These elements should make the products less attractive, especially for young people. We know the effectiveness of these measures from the field of smoking prevention.
“The aim of our study is therefore not a simple legalisation of cannabis, but consists in testing risk reduction measures to address the problems caused by a ban and the illicit market while controlling supply and demand for these products”.
The study should provide data for possible future regulation of cannabis at the federal level aimed at promoting public health and social security.
Geneva receives its authorisation
A pilot project for the regulated sale of cannabis in Geneva has also received authorisation from the FOPH.
The fifth pilot trial to be approved by Swiss authorities, ‘The Cannabinotheque: a pilot trial for the regulated sale of cannabis in the canton of Geneva’, reportedly now ‘promotes careful preparation to be carried out by the various partners’.
These partners include the Canton, the municipality of Vernier, located only a few kilometres from the French border and where the point of sale will be installed, the Carrefour Addictions association, as well as the other members of the ChanGE association which will oversee the trial.
The scientific evaluation of the project will be carried out by the Addictology Service of the Geneva University Hospitals and the University’s sociology department.
The opening date of the sales premises is subject to the start of cannabis production and the time required for its cultivation and preparation. It still needs to be specified, as does the date from which people who would like to participate in the trial can come forward. The test will be conducted for three years with some 1,000 participants
SOURCE & CREDIT: BUSINESS OF CANNABIS