Summer 2017: The cities in search of a better deal

Urban hemp projects

The discussions about urban hemp projects (cannabis clubs, controlled hemp dispensaries) are already old. Already in 2006 there were efforts for a controlled sale of cannabis in the city of Bern. There were also considerations in the city of Zurich. But on 15.6.07 the Bund headlined: “No pilot test with cannabis”. Because that's just the way it is: The NarcA is a nationwide law, which cannot be changed by one city alone. Besides the medical use with special permission, there is only the possibility of a scientific trial in the NarcA.

In 2010, Zurich wanted to develop one, but didn't really move forward. Then Geneva wanted to tackle the issue properly. On 2/19/14, the NZZ headlined, “Geneva gets serious with new cannabis regulation.” But this project did not get off the ground either. At least the interested cities met regularly in a joint working group: “Cities focus on cannabis clubs” (NZZ, 5.2.16).

Order for research project

Bern also wanted to try hemp. And those responsible really stuck to it, despite all the problems and resistance. In March 2016, the city council of Bern commissioned the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern to work out a detailed research project.

This is not about permanent cannabis social clubs or similar, but about researching scientific questions. The aim of the project is to test a regulated cannabis sale: Consumption and purchasing behavior are to be researched, the participants' state of mind is recorded and they have to fill out online questionnaires several times. In addition, there are prevention measures and counseling services. The duration is limited, usually to three years, and probably a few hundred people will participate. The sale takes place in certain pharmacies. We are therefore a long way from cannabis social clubs or even a “stoner mecca Bern” (Blick, 15.3.16).

As it is a human research project, the project requires approval from the cantonal ethics committee in Bern. In August 2016, the project was submitted there and in March 2017, those responsible (local councilor Franziska Teuscher and university professor Matthias Egger) were able to announce the approval of the commission. The National Fund also supports the study.

Will the permit be granted?

Now comes the decisive step: the submission of the project to the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). However, this would have been without a chance without the years-long, step-by-step development of the necessary basics - like the earlier attempts. The FOPH decides on the exceptional approval for the handling of illegal hemp in the context of this research project. An approval now seems possible - after all, it is clearly about scientific research. If the approval comes, similar research projects from the city of Zurich and the cantons of Basel-Stadt and Geneva could be submitted. First, however, Bern must submit its project to the FOPH.

Last modified: 2023/12/22 21:16

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