Could Switzerland become Amsterdam 2.0? A pilot program consisting of four cannabis clubs in four cities is set to open in the small European nation of Switzerland. Switzerland decriminalized personal amounts of cannabis in 2013.
“The four cities have agreed to include pilot projects on their territory,” said Sandro Cattacin, Sociology Professor at the University of Geneva. According to SRF, the four cities to explore cannabis clubs are Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva. Each club would be allowed to legally serve cannabis to up to 2,000 customers each. Switzerland, however, is home to at least half a million cannabis consumers.
Switzerland has been home to lenient cannabis laws for awhile. For decades, retailers have worked around cannabis laws by selling cannabis as potpourri in sachets. A sachet of “potpourri” in Switzerland came in dozens of varieties, and sold for between 20 to 100 Swiss francs ($15-75).
In October 2013, the Swiss government dropped penalties for personal cannabis possession. Possession is now only a misdemeanor, and will not go on a person’s criminal record. Possession of 10 grams or less is punishable by a small fine of 100 Swiss francs ($75). The pilot program is subject to approval from cantonal governments. Possession of cannabis is currently still illegal in Switzerland, however, and cultivation and production could lead to up to three years in prison.
Switzerland is also home to a scary cannabis research study held at the University of Lausanne. The study purports to connect long-term cannabis use with diminishing verbal memory. That hasn’t slowed Switzerland’s lenient approach, as more recent decriminalization efforts have been focused on creating a new taxable, controllable product.
The new pilot program will also explore several other elements of legal cannabis, such as the control of THC levels, contaminants and preventing children from accessing cannabis. Swiss scientists plan on closely monitoring the outcome of Switzerland’s new cannabis club program.