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

The country officially launched its pilot cannabis project on Monday, clearing the way for a few hundred selected participants to purchase marijuana for recreational use in various pharmacies throughout the Swiss city of 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.”

Participants in the program will be strictly monitored by government regulators, and they are barred from sharing the cannabis with anyone outside the program. 

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. With a structured legalisation process, maximum conformity and transparency, Switzerland is setting an example. With our existing Cannavigia software and the Cannabis Dispensary System, we provide the various stakeholders involved with the necessary tools to track and document every step along 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. This kind of partnership between the government and a commercial business in the cannabis industry is unique to the sector. Vigia AG has added a Cannabis Dispensary System (CDS) to its existing Cannavigia software solution. Thanks to the combination of the two, the companies cultivating cannabis for the projects can monitor their cultivation and supply chain, which serves to ensure the quality of the 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. It allows the dispensaries to keep track of sales as well as individual quantities dispensed to participants, guaranteeing that only authorised persons can purchase the products. This ensures consumer and especially minor protection and results in a transparent and traceable supply chain which can also be maintained in a future legalised 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.”

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