Joeri Cornille

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health has rejected a University of Bern proposal to carry out a scientific study on the effects of cannabis legalization that would have seen Swiss pharmacies sell cannabis for recreational purposes, according to an SWI report. In a letter to the university’s Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, the agency indicated the study would not be allowed because “current drugs legislation does not allow the use of cannabis for non-medical reasons.”

In order for health officials to allow the study the nation’s laws “would have to be supplemented by legal provision for scientific pilot projects,” the letter states, adding such a study would be “desirable, in principle, to be able to analyze new forms of regulation scientifically.”

While Switzerland does permit limited medical cannabis use and allows exceptions to the drug laws for research purposes, nearly two-thirds of Swiss voters voted against broad decriminalization in 2008, according to the report. In 2011, Switzerland legalized cannabis products containing 1 percent of THC or less; however, citizens caught with up to 10 grams of products over that threshold are fined $101 but it is not added to their criminal record.

The University of Bern researchers have 30 days to appeal the denial.

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