After Geneva, Lausanne will also legally sell cannabis

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Lausanne’s pilot project for the regulated sale of recreational cannabis is entering its concrete phase, with the opening of a point of sale in the city center by the end of the year. Nearly 200 participants have already registered for the Cann-L project.

After a series of steps initiated in 2015, Lausanne’s regulated cannabis pilot program is coming to an end, with the opening of the last piece of the puzzle: the point of sale. The chosen location is rue du Maupas 7, an address strategically chosen because it is easily accessible. The point of sale is currently being prepared and should have a full team by the end of the year.

The products offered at the point of sale will come from a company based in Geneva and will include weed and resin. These products must comply with federal legislation, which limits THC content to a maximum of 20% and will only be intended for personal consumption in private spaces.

Of the 2,500 people who have expressed interest in the project, some 1,800 people are eligible to participate. As of September 21, 200 people have been contacted and scheduled for mandatory initial interviews. Additionally, 1,600 emails were sent for additional registrations. However, the process could experience delays and “traffic jams” due to the time required for interviews and the limited stock of cannabis currently available.

Frank Zobel, deputy director of Addiction Suisse, the organization which oversees the scientific aspect of the project, insisted on the gradual integration of interested people, the aim being to reach a panel of 1,200 participants. For the future, it is planned to diversify the sources of merchandise, with two or three production sites expected to replace the current one.

Fight against the black market and reduction of risks

The Lausanne project aims not only to monitor the evolution of the black market, but also to assess the impact of non-profit cannabis sales on consumer behavior. To do this, participants will have to complete a questionnaire every six months. In addition, a 45-minute preliminary interview will recall the framework of the project and confirm the eligibility of the participants, in particular their age, their residence in Lausanne and their cannabis consumption. Participants will receive a personal card, which will serve as both proof of possession and purchase of cannabis in the event of a police check.

Several unknowns remain about the impact of the trial, such as the quantity to be sold and the number of participants. The association behind the project aims to maintain competitive prices, approximately between 9 and 13 francs per gram, which should correspond to black market prices with a “premium” for quality.

In Switzerland, around 4% of adults use cannabis, and in Lausanne, around 6,500 people use cannabis, 1,500 of them daily, generating a turnover of around nine million euros. The objective of the project is to reduce the illegal market and the nuisance it causes.

The Cann-L project in Lausanne has a budget of 1.7 million francs and is expected to last four and a half years. It received approval from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) last March. Other Swiss cities, including Basel and Zurich, have already launched controlled sales of cannabis in pharmacies, and the canton of Geneva announced the opening of its cannabis library in Vernier in December.

It will then remain in Bern, Bienne and Lucerne to deploy their experimentation with legal cannabis to have in real life the 5 tests currently listed.

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