First Legal Marijuana Dispensary to Open in Switzerland
In late October 2023, the first trials for a cannabis dispensary – a pioneer in Europe, was finally given the green light by Swiss authorities. The dispensary will be managed by the Swiss Institute for Addiction (ISGF) and Health Research as well as the Sanity Group though they both must first carry out a study to plan how they will successfully sell marijuana to adults.
The study called Grashaus Project, is taking place late 2023. It will involve dispensing cannabis at a flagship store in the Allschwil municipality though another store will follow in Liestal. The trials will also allow them to pre-empt how to handle high-risk users including those with mental health problems, and how they can refer them to the right care centers in their canton.
Prof. Dr. Michael Schaub, ISGF’s Scientific Director, will be leading the study. Meanwhile, Finn Hansel, Sanity Group’s CEO, said in a statement: “Our ambition to support the ISGF pilot project with our knowledge and experience as an internationally positioned cannabis company is primarily based on the promotion of research in the field of cannabis.”
“Since the company was founded, our goal has been to further research the benefits of cannabis and destigmatize the plant. Together with ISGF, we are developing concepts for safe sales based on health protection, youth protection and prevention,” he said.
Swiss authorities have been studying various reform and policy models around the country during the last few years. One of the their biggest challenges is toppling the black market, which is still prevalent in Switzerland as well as other parts of Europe.
Is Germany Finally About To Legalize Marijuana?
On November 27, 2023, the Traffic Light coalition of Germany, which is comprised of members from the Social Democratic Party, The Greens, and the Free Democratic Party, is said to have agreed on cannabis legalization policies that may take effect by April 1st next year.
Currently, anyone found in possession of over 25 grams of cannabis may be convicted of a crime. Should the new rules take effect, citizens will be able to carry as much as 30 grams in public, and possess 50 up to 60 grams in private. The authorities are still working on drafting the laws and these could change anytime over the next few weeks.
Germany has been working on finalizing the legalities surrounding cannabis use more aggressively since 2021.
During a meeting at the Bundestag last week, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach answered questions from people who had mixed views about cannabis legalization. “The fact remains that child and youth protection is carried out through education, and sales to children and young people remain prohibited,” he clarified.
“As part of this legalization, we are pushing back the black market,” Lauterbach stated. “The less of the black market there is, the lower the risk that our children will be brought into consumption through the black market,” he added.
The Illegal Cannabis Market Is Still Flourishing in Europe
A recent article by Cannabis.net called, “With a Gun to My Head, Here is One Idea to Go Long and One Idea to Short in the Cannabis Market”, pointed out that while Europe may become the biggest cannabis market by volume in the world, full legalization would open up the biggest illicit cannabis market in the world as well. The author noted Europe’s long difficulty in organizing agreements, border squabbles, and the access points that many surrounding poor countries have to Europe as big concern for legal market organizers.
It appears the article was spot on now after a recent report by the EMCDDA.
A recent analysis released by the EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) and the Europol reveals that the European cannabis market is growing in terms of both diversity and potency.
According to the report, cannabis takes up the biggest slice of the pie in Europe’s drug market, estimated to be worth some EUR 11.4 billion. It also mentions that around 22.6 million European adults have consumed marijuana within the last year.
However, the report also highlights that the potency of marijuana products continues to rise. It also points towards the increasing danger of semi-synthetic cannabis and its proliferation in Europe, especially HHC. Consuming potent and synthetic cannabinoids is a real threat and danger that they still need to tackle. It seems that the European market is still struggling greatly as they learn how to cope with the flourishing black market.
French Government Takes A Big Step To Improve Medical Cannabis Access
Last October 23, the French government made amendments to the Social Security Financing Bill (PLFSS) involving medical marijuana. In doing so, they brought cannabis into the general medical framework of France for the first time in history as part of their trials.
Thanks to the move, medical marijuana products will now be given a temporary authorization good for five years. They also have language in place that will allow these authorizations to be renewed indefinitely. This step towards marijuana generalization is significant for France because it integrates medical marijuana into their general law.
That isn’t without its caveats, though: in France, patients must still have tried every other treatment available, and if it doesn’t work, then they can look to doctors who can prescribe them medical marijuana. Despite the liberal French nation launching their trials with medical cannabis since 2021 lasting for 2 years.
Other notable developments from the amendment include the ability to authorize products on a case by case basis, making way for a transition period lasting 9 months – by the end of which marks the expiry of generalization as the experiment culminates in April 2024. Once generalization has finished, cannabis use will go back to being recommended as a last-resort medication and only hospitals can prescribe them.
The European Union still struggles with numerous challenges when it comes to legalizing cannabis in every single nation. The black market is a major hurdle, and many authorities are still pushing back against more liberal access of medical marijuana. (Full Story)