The Pilot Program for Legalizing Cannabis in Switzerland Will Be Extended to Geneva
Switzerland has begun its first adult-use cannabis commerce pilot program, following in the footsteps of Denmark. As part of a localized cannabis pilot program, legal cannabis was first purchased and sold for adult use a little more than two weeks ago in Basel, Switzerland. Switzerland also intends to do the same, with a pilot program currently announced for Geneva in 2023, just as Denmark seeks to expand its pilot program to other cities.
Another European nation, the Netherlands, is attempting to start adult-use pilot programs, but as we previously reported, there have been a number of delays. Due to “quality issues,” the Basel, Switzerland, pilot program was also briefly delayed, but it is now, thankfully in operation. Lausanne, Switzerland is also set to launch a pilot program in the near future.
Slower Progress Towards National Legalization
An adult-use cannabis commerce pilot program’s objective is to assist national lawmakers and regulators in learning what cannabis policy works and doesn’t work locally so that they can better formulate national policies. That could prove to be a double-edged sword in that it will probably ensure that national legalization occurs eventually, but it also might ensure that legalization does not occur anytime soon, given that the Switzerland pilot program was initially intended to run for a five-year cycle with the possibility of local jurisdictions extending it for an additional period of time.
Growing Pilot Programs
There is currently no set date for legalization in Germany, but it does seem inevitable and is more of a “if” than a “when” question. The expansion of Switzerland’s pilot program to as many cities as possible would be fantastic in the interim. After all, if each Swiss city had its own pilot program, many people would effectively be able to use cannabis for adult purposes. However, since each program only has a certain number of spots available, many people would likely remain on the outside.
In the short term, pilot programs are a fantastic idea and are unquestionably preferable to outright prohibition. However, lawmakers in Switzerland must acknowledge that they are a far cry from national legalization, like that found in Canada, and work harder for broader reform. Even in nations with adult-use pilot programs, cannabis prohibition is an ineffective public policy. Switzerland, Denmark, and the Netherlands all need to eventually abandon the piecemeal strategy and make the transition to comprehensive national legalization.