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Swiss cities authorized to distribute cannabis for scientific studies

Parliament approved an amendment to Swiss narcotics law that will allow the study of recreational cannabis use in the country's largest cities

Both chambers approved the amendment to the law Wednesday, following the debate on whether the cannabis distributed to consumers should be of local or organic origin. The right-wing Swiss People's Party sees this as an opportunity to support the country's agricultural sector. Parliament ultimately decided that Swiss and organic cannabis should be used as much as possible.

The vote paves the way for scientific studies on the effects of controlled cannabis use. These studies should make it possible to assess the effects of the new regulations on the recreational use of cannabis and, ultimately, to fight against the distribution of cannabis on the black market.

A third of the Swiss population has already smoked marijuana and some 200 people use it regularly. Several cities, including Bern, Geneva, Zurich and Basel, have expressed interest in carrying out studies aimed at better understanding the current cannabis market.

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Any pilot project involving the distribution of cannabis will be regulated by a strict framework accompanied by an enforcement order. Participation in the pilot projects will be limited to cannabis users aged 18 or over. The state of health of the participants will be closely monitored.

Trials will last no longer than five years and the number of participants is not expected to exceed 5000 per trial.

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