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Cannabis Pilot Program Kicks Off in Switzerland

Weed is for sale in one of the largest cities in Switzerland—for a select few, anyway.

On Monday, the country launched the pilot cannabis program. This will allow a select few hundred participants to buy marijuana recreationally in various pharmacies around Basel.

Swiss officials last year gave the go-ahead for the pilot project, with the country’s “Federal Office of Public Health [saying] the idea of the project is to increase understanding of ‘alternative regulatory forms,’ such as regulated sales at pharmacies that could be a basis for future legislation,” according to the Associated Press.

“Basel’s project, which involves the local government, the University of Basel and the city’s University Psychiatric Clinics, will get under way in late summer,” the AP reported last year. “Nearly 400 participants will be able to buy various cannabis products at selected pharmacies in Basel, the city government said. During the 2 1/2-year study, they will be questioned regularly on their consumption of the substance and on their physical and mental health.”

Government regulators will closely monitor the participants and prohibit them from sharing their cannabis with any outsiders. 

Vigia AG, a Swiss company that provides track and trace software, said this week that it “has developed the Cannabis Dispensary System in partnership with the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) in order to reliably document the dispensing of the products,” which in turn “makes it possible to track the cannabis goods transparently and gives the foundation for scientific research.”

“We are in an emerging industry where various paths to legalisation are currently being discussed. Switzerland has set an example by setting a clear legalization process and ensuring maximum transparency and conformity. Our existing Cannavigia software, as well as the Cannabis Dispensary Software, provide each stakeholder with all the tools necessary to trace and document every step of the supply chain. We are proud to be part of the Swiss pilot projects and this historic milestone,” Philipp Hagenbach, the chief operating officer of Vigia AG, said in a press release on Monday.

The release contains more details on Vigia AG’s involvement in the landmark Swiss program:

“Vigia AG is the FOPH’s official track & trace partner for the pilot trials. It is rare to see this kind of collaboration between the government, a cannabis business and the government in the industry. Vigia AG, a Cannavigia Software Solution provider has now added a Cannabis Dispensary System. Combining the two allows the cannabis companies that cultivate the plants to track their supply chains and cultivation, which helps ensure quality final products.

“Those in charge of the projects can use the software to register the study participants, with those responsible for the Weed Care study starting this as early as September 2022. This software lets dispensaries track sales, as well as the individual amounts dispensed. It ensures that authorized people can buy the products. It ensures minor and consumer protection. Additionally, it allows for a traceable and transparent supply chain that can be continued in the future legalized environment. The Cannabis Dispensary System provides the FOPH with an overview of the circulation of cannabis in Switzerland and supports the reporting obligation to the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board. The data of the participants are always stored pseudonymously in order to ensure data protection.”