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Switzerland trials legal cannabis sales for recreational use

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By Joshua Askew  with AP
A cannabis plant that is close to harvest grows in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in the US, June 17, 2021.
A cannabis plant that is close to harvest grows in a grow room at the Greenleaf Medical Cannabis facility in the US, June 17, 2021.   -   Copyright  Steve Helber/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Swiss authorities have greenlit a trial of legal cannabis sales for recreational use.

Under the pilot project, which was approved yesterday, a few hundred people in the city of Basel will be allowed to buy cannabis from pharmacies for recreational purposes.

The Federal Office of Public Health said the idea behind the pilot is to better understand “alternative regulatory forms,” such as regulated sales at official vendors.

Growing and selling cannabis is currently banned in Switzerland, although the public health authority acknowledged that consumption of the drug is widespread.

They also noted that there is a substantial black market for the drug, alongside survey data indicating a majority of the Swiss are in favour of rethinking the country's policy on cannabis.

The pilot, beginning in late summer, involves the local government, Basel University and the city's University Psychiatric Clinics.

Residents of Basel who already consume cannabis and who are aged over 18 will be able to apply, though the application process has not yet opened.

Some 400 participants will be able to buy a selection of cannabis products at selected pharmacies, the city government said.

They will then be questioned regularly during a two and a half year study to find out what effect the substance is having on their mental and physical health.

The cannabis will come from Swiss supplier Pure Production, which has been allowed to legally produce the drug by the Swiss authorities for research purposes.

Anyone caught passing on or selling the cannabis will be penalised and kicked out of the project, the Federal Office of Public Health said.