Another Swiss canton – Solothurn – begins to increase its public profile in the move towards implementing trial recreational projects across the country
According to the Solothurner Zeitung, the powers that be want to push forward with cannabis legalization in the Swiss canton (state). This is nothing new. In May 2022 the Solothurn cantonal council decided that it wanted to proceed with a regulated cannabis industry. Further, in a message published at the end of the month, that their “professional initiative” on the same should be drawn up into legislation as quickly as possible. Their take is that cannabis should be treated more or less like alcohol from the regulatory and access perspective.
Why Is Solothurn’s Decision So Interesting?
Both the mainstream German-speaking media along with the cannapress has been covering such developments with increasing interest this year. Indeed, the city of Olten appears to be the first in the canton with detailed plans, attached to a local university, to move forward with a pilot trial, in step with other Swiss cities such as Basel and Lausanne. The Olten trial appears to be on track to start in 2023 if all goes well on the approvals front at the state level.
It is actually no surprise to Swiss cannabis reform watchers. The canton has also consistently led pro-cannabis reform initiatives at a national level for several years now. This may or may not have to do with its proximity to Basel, which announced the first trial in the country, or the fact that it is a mostly rural canton with a historical agricultural economy. What may have more to do with this regional interest in the entire cannabis conversation is that the canton, in the northwest of the country, is also German speaking.
It is absolutely without doubt that all such trials will be avidly watched just north of the border as Germany continues down its own legalization path.
There is no doubt that “Germans” – both those who actually live in Deutschland as well as the neighboring German speaking regions across the DACH – are on the road to integrating cannabis into daily life. What appears to be happening, however, is a kind of curious echo effect across German-speaking national borders. Namely, Switzerland, which is outside of the EU but on the German border, may have an outsized impact on the speed if not direct form of cannabis legalization in Germany simply because of location and because Germans can read along with what is happening next door.
So far, of course, nobody knows for sure what the shape of German reform will look like – and at least from the public statements of officials, there is no indication that cannabis legalization will follow exactly the same path. Namely, there has been no talk so far of a German “trial” in the same way that the Swiss have proceeded. That said, there is already movement on the part of German cities to set up partners for city dispensary trials once federal reform occurs.
German To German Trade?
What nobody has talked about officially so far is what could happen across DACH borders once Germany has legalized recreational cannabis. Switzerland is already turning into a hub of brokers for CBD products because of national regulations. It could also turn into the same for recreational cannabis products bound not just for domestic markets but German ones too.
There are several big ifs in this discussion, including the fact that so far, the Swiss have waived critical legislation, including Novel Food and GMP to allow the domestic program to proceed. This would not necessarily be lifted on the German side of the border, meaning that Switzerland might spawn a large number of brokers who are unable to sell products through.
Regardless, the entire scenario begins to pose interesting questions, the answer to which will become clearer in the months that follow.