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Stoner Symphony

Swiss Citizens With Access to Legal Adult-Use Cannabis Soon To Top 15,000, As Innaugural Trial Publishes Interim Results


As the dust settles from last week’s milestone vote in Germany, which is set to bring adult-use cannabis decriminalisation to the European Union’s most populous country, its neighbour Switzerland has announced a flurry of updates regarding its own cannabis project.

Switzerland’s adult-use cannabis pilot project, which Germany’s upcoming Pillar 2 will closely model, has now been running for more than a year, and initial results from its seven authorised studies are now beginning to emerge.

The Department of Health for Basel-Stadt, which launched Switzerland’s first pilot trial in January 2023, has published the interim results for its landmark study, which became the first study of its kind to be launched in Europe back in January 2023, paving the way for half a dozen more adult-use pilot trials to follow suit over the subsequent year.

Last week, Switzerland’s seventh and largest pilot trial was approved for launch by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOHP) in Zürich, set to see 7500 participants take part from May this year.

This brings the total potential sample size of all seven trials to over 17,000, with around 15,000 of those expected to have legal access to adult-use cannabis once all the trials are fully operational.

Weed Care 

The much smaller Weed Care pilot was established to examine the effect of permitting regulated cannabis sales via pharmacies on public health and was intended to provide a basis for discussion of future cannabis policy in the country.

In the 13 months since the study was launched, 378 participants have been granted legal access to six cannabis products.

Throughout the study, the participants were asked regularly about their consumption habits and their physical and mental health.

While ‘no adverse events or police findings’ have been recorded thus far, 11% of participants (40) have dropped out.

Of those, 62% had their participation blocked for failing to fill out the required questionnaires, while the remaining 15 participants either moved out of the canton, stopped cannabis consumption, or left because they were unhappy with the products.

Over the year, 8176 purchases were made, with a total of 41kg of cannabis sold to participants who consumed an average of 1.2g per day for 20 days of a month.

An overwhelming majority (94%) of participants said they were satisfied with pharmacies as their point of purchase. As previously reported, pharmacists also provided positive feedback about the experience.

Satisfaction with the product range and quality of the products was far lower, however, with researchers suggesting this is why nearly half (49%) of participants consumed cannabis from illegal sources alongside products from the study.

Nearly 70% of participants said they wanted products in addition to the flower and hash products that were already available, with a further 70% of those saying they wanted edible products, 59% stating they wanted THC oil, and 43% stating they wanted e-liquids.

Just 31% said they were satisfied with the quality of the available products, and 20 percent said they wanted products with a higher THC content.

Regine Steinauer, Head of the Addiction Department, said: “The interim results do not yet allow any conclusive findings. However, it seems to be becoming clear that the product range must be geared more towards the needs of consumers in order to have an impact on the black market in the future.”

Further progress in Zurich

Switzerland’s seventh and largest adult-use cannabis study was also granted authorisation by the FOHP last week, seeking to further examine the impact of cannabis legalisation on a number of social and economic factors, including whether its negative effects can be reduced through a voluntary programme to regulate cannabis use.

As Cannabis Health reported, for the first time, participants in two out of three groups (5000 people) will have legal access to regulated cannabis products from a limited number of distribution points, while a third will serve as a comparison group that will continue to source cannabis illegally.

In Winterthur, Schlieren and Horgen, all towns located in canton Zürich, participants will be able to purchase cannabis in specialist shops and pharmacies from May 2024. Further points of sale in Zürich are planned in Adliswil, Wädenswil and Uster.

News of the new study came as further results were published from Zurich’s first pilot project, ZüriCan, a 2,100-participant study conducted in conjunction with the city council and the Psychiatric University Clinic Zurich.

After recieving approval in March 2023, ZüriCan was officially launched in August that year.

Currently, 1,928 people out of a maximum of 2,100 are enrolled in the study and are eligible to purchase cannabis, with significantly more men (80.5%) than women (19.5%) taking part.

Participants have an average age of 35, with those aged 28 to 32-years-old said to be most frequently represented.

Initially, five different cannabis products with different THC/CBD contents and different genotypes were available. However, in December 2023, this expanded to nine products, including five flower and four hash.

According to the data, the majority of study participants consumed cannabis four times a week or more, and approximately a quarter of the study participants had evidence of a cannabis use disorder before they began accessing regulated products.

“Regulated distribution of cannabis can create a framework that promotes lower-risk cannabis consumption,” the researchers state.

“The sales staff at the reference points have been specially trained to provide advice and prevention so that individual, targeted advice is possible. Since study participants always buy their study cannabis from the same source, a closer relationship of trust can develop over time, in which problematic developments can also be identified and discussed.”



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