‘Cannabis clubs’ may be opening in four Swiss cities

Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva have all agreed to launch pilot clubs

"Cannabis clubs" allowing members to use the drug without facing a penalty are reportedly set to open in four Swiss cities.

Zurich, Basel, Bern and Geneva have all agreed to launch pilot clubs, which have allegedly been in discussion for sometime, local broadcaster SRF reports.

Representatives from the cities met in Bern on Thursday to discuss how to regulate the sale of cannabis, which is illegal to possess in Switzerland.

If the project is accepted up to 2,000 people will be able to legally use cannabis in the venues - a small share of the 500,000 people who smoke marijuana in Switzerland despite the threat of prison time and fines, The Local reports.

The projects are proposed to run over four years and will be scientifically monitored, SRF said. 

Implementation of the clubs, however, is still subject to approval by cantonal governments and the federal office of public health.

Reports of so-called "clubs" offering “state-certified” cannabis for personal use have been circulating since 2014.

It has previously been suggested the venues would be adult-only and called “associations of cannabis users”, according to the Local.

At present cannabis bought illegally on the “black market” cannot be taxed by the state, Snadro Cattacin, sociology professor at the University of Geneva an Geneva representatives told SFR. Neither can the government place controls on cannabis products or conduct proper prevention programmes - problems the proposed clubs hope to counter.

According to previous reports, other benefits of the proposed scheme include greater control of elements such as the level of THC, an active ingredient in cannabis, and the use of pesticides.

The proposed pilot plan would also authorise the controlled use of cannabis for young people and adults suffering from problems linked to the drug.

The use and possession of cannabis remains illegal in Switzerland, although enforcement differs widely across the country.

According to the Federal Law on Drugs in Switzerland, production, culture, use and possession of cannabis is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The government liberalised its policies with a law that took effect in October 2013 making the possession of small amounts of cannabis punishable by a set fine of 100 Swiss francs.

The change aimed to reduce the 30,000 or so cannabis-related cases clogging Swiss courts annually.

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