Switzerland has just announced plans to launch a pilot program that will allow for the creation of cannabis clubs in a handful of large Swiss cities.
The program would allow for cannabis clubs to be opened in Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Geneva, and would be part of a larger attempt to test out what more liberal marijuana laws might look like in the European country.
In 2013, Switzerland decriminalized marijuana, changing its laws so that possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis would result in only a small fine of 100 francs, which is more or less equivalent to $100.
Recognizing that at least 500,000 people report regularly using marijuana, Swiss lawmakers and activists have proposed the new cannabis club idea as a way to make legal marijuana use more accessible to its people.
But the clubs won’t be a free-for-all. Initial reports indicate that the cannabis clubs will be closely monitored and tightly regulated. In the early phases of the pilot program, only 2,000 people will be allowed to use the clubs.
In order to qualify for access to cannabis clubs, a person must be dealing with some sort of drug-related problem or health condition.
While many in the broader cannabis community see this as a possible step forward for both Switzerland and the entire European Union, many Swiss lawmakers have voiced concern with the idea.
The question of whether or not to allow cannabis clubs has been a hot topic in Switzerland since 2014.
Many conservative politicians have argued that marijuana is a hard drug, and have claimed that making cannabis more accessible could lead to increased drug problems in the country.
Others have made the case that cannabis clubs could be an effective way to combat the black market, allowing for legally controlled, monitored, and regulated marijuana sales and use.
While plans to open the clubs in Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Geneva appear to be on track, any further developments of the plan would require approval from both regional and federal governments.