Numerous companies are utilizing the metaverse as a new, barely-regulated way to promote their products. Although major brands like Miller Lite, Estee Lauder, Wendy’s and JPMorgan Chase & Co are already setting up shop in the digital realm, there seems to be some keen advantages to advertising this way for those who work in the cannabis industry as well.
Because the metaverse operates on a Web3 decentralized platform, there is no corporate control or censorship, leaving cannabis companies freer to market their products in ways they would not be able to do on say, Facebook or Instagram. According to Lisa Buffo, founder and chief executive of the Cannabis Marketing Association, “It is a wide-open space in Web3… regulators haven’t wrapped their heads around it yet.”
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What is the Metaverse?
By now most people have, at the very least, heard the word “Metaverse” – whether in the context of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook rebrand, or when NFTs briefly had their moment in the limelight, digital art galleries, and so on. But what exactly is the metaverse? Different explanations have been offered up, from the metaverse being a basically just a virtual universe where we use an avatar to navigate a fake world, to it being simply a way to categorize various extended reality technologies.
Actually, the term “metaverse” was first coined in a sci-fi novel written by Neal Stephenson in 1992, titled Snow Crash. In the book, Stephenson describes the metaverse as a type of digital parallel universe. Today’s metaverse bears some similar concepts, but overall is based on the idea of Web3, or third generation internet in which everything is operated on decentralized blockchain technology.
“The metaverse is a 3D version of the Internet and computing at large,” Mathew Ball, a venture capitalist and angel investor who’s written a series of essays about the potential and structures of the metaverse, told VICE. “There are two ways to place this in the current context,” Ball added. “When these two technologies (internet and computing) first emerged, all interactions were primarily text-based (emails, messages, usernames, email addresses). Then they slowly became more media-based (photos, videos, livestreams). The next elevation of user interface and user experience is into 3D. Secondly, if we think of [a] mobile [phone] as placing a computer in our pocket and the internet being available at all times, think of the metaverse as always being within a computer and inside the internet.”
Many experts and Web3 stakeholders view the metaverse as a 3D version of the internet, where you a digital life through your avatar and interact with others through their avatars. A way to be social, more so than typing on a keyboard on some social media platform, but minus any true, real-life interactions.
Others, like cybersecurity expert and founding director of the Connecticut Institute of Technology at the University of New Haven, Ibrahim Baggili, don’t believe a true metaverse actually exists yet. “It’s not real at this stage, and won’t become real until people have a single location they can go to to get into in a virtual world they could live in,” Baggili claims.
Cannabis transactions in Decentraland
What is most appealing to cannabis companies about selling products in the metaverse, for the time being anyway, are the very lax advertising regulations compared other internet platforms. So far, only a handful of weed companies are buying up digital space, and only of these companies sells THC products.
For example, Higher Life CBD Dispesnary LLC, who partnered with partnered with Saucey Farms & Extracts LLC earlier this year, opened a store in Voxels last December. Voxels is a metaverse-style universe that used to be called Cryptovoxels until they rebranded last month. Although you can’t buy anything directly from their virtual store, you can click a cash register button in the meta dispensary which will redirect you to their website where you can make a purchase. According to Higher Life chief executive, Brandon Howard, roughly 1000 people visit the virtual dispensary every day.
Florida-based Kandy Girl, owed by Alina Boyce, is the first cannabis company that sells THC products to purchase virtual property in Decentraland. Her metaverse store is located at -55, -129. Every “parcel” that exists in the metaverse has its own coordinates/location so people can “teleport” there immediately.
However, according to chief marketing officer and owner of Boyce Capital LLC, Ben Boyce, there aren’t enough users yet to generate the necessary investor interest to take things to the next level. “When there’s a million people logged into a metaverse at any given time, that’s when it is going to make sense to staff [a virtual] dispensary with a real live human being,” Mr. Boyce said.
But until then, basically all the cannabis brands can do is take advantage of the advertising freedom they have in the metaverse compared to traditional advertising platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google. Metaverse platforms are different in that they have varying rules for how and what you can promote, depending on what world you’re in. For example, Roblox, Meta Horizon WOrlds, and Sandbox have banned cannabis companies, but Decentraland and Voxels support them.
“We have supported various NFT cannabis communities—as long as they meet the terms and conditions,” said Adam de Cata, head of partnerships at Decentraland. “Cannabis companies that open in Decentraland need to observe legal regulations, including not serving users in countries where the product is prohibited,” said Sam Hamilton, creative director of Decentraland Foundation, which builds tools for the platform and handles its marketing.
The consumer experience
The basics of shopping for pot products in the Decentraland metaverse go a little something like this: First, you launch the program on a desktop computer, create an avatar, and move through the virtual dispensary world where you can interact with other people’s avatars and buy products with your crypto wallet by scanning a QR code that takes you to the checkout site. There are multiple floors in the meta Kandy Girl store for customers to explore, including a large NFT gallery and a virtual rooftop party held earlier this year (yes, a party for avatars).
Founder Alina Boyce says, “A lot of these NFT projects people are investing in, either don’t end up delivering on their promises, or it just takes so long for the promises of these projects to be executed. It scares investors when they see the floor price of a NFT project start dropping. We’ve created a reason to stay.”
To get a better idea of the whole experience, I did a bit of exploring in Decentraland myself. The concept was interesting. First, I made an avatar and launched Decentraland, where I started off inside the Kandy Girl dispensary. There was an upper level but I did not have access because I entered the game as a guest. It was very rudimentary – which is understandable considering how new this digital world is.
After looking around a bit, I went outside and wandered where there was an array of different NFT artwork to look at, walked some more and exited the app shortly after. I do find it extremely forward thinking of Kandy Girl to pursue this marketing avenue, as they are the first company to establish a digital metaverse dispensary that sells THC products. However, it will certainly need to be more entertaining if business owners wish to create an experience that’s worth repeating.
As strange as it all sounds, the metaverse is trending so it’s no surprise that cannabis companies (an industry which has also been trending for the last few years), are eyeing these virtual business opportunities. An added bonus is that, in some of these digital worlds, they are free to advertise with much more leniency than they are in the real world. And although shopping and activities are still somewhat abysmal in decentraland and voxels, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.
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Psyched Wellness is Bringing You Amanita Mushrooms – And It’s All Legal
Magic mushrooms are the new buzz word, but they don’t all fall into just one category. Sure, there are psilocybin magic mushrooms, but there are also amanita mushrooms, for a different kind of high and unique medical advantages. Now, the company Psyched Wellness is offering amanita mushroom products, and the best part is, it’s all legal.
We all know about psilocybin mushrooms, right? Well, now there’s a new mushroom to know about, Amanita muscaria, and these mushrooms are not only legal, but come with a host of medical benefits. If you’re into independent drug reporting concerning the cannabis and psychedelics fields, this is the publication for you. We provide the Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter so readers can stay updated on current events, as well as have access to tons of deals on cannabis products including popular cannabinoid compounds Delta 8 THC, and HHC, and all upcoming hallucinogenic products. Check the ‘best of’ lists for offers, and choose the products you’re most comfortable using.
What are amanita mushrooms?
When you hear the term ‘magic mushrooms’ the go-to association is with psilocybin mushrooms, the shrooms readily found in North and South America, which cause trips and highs by activating serotonin receptors. These mushrooms, along with LSD, DMT, and other compounds, are considered psychedelic hallucinogens.
This group of psychedelic hallucinogens doesn’t include other drugs we often think of as psychedelics, like ketamine. That drug, along with PCP and DXM are all dissociative hallucinogens. There is a third group as well, called deliriant hallucinogens, which includes scopolamine, the drug used to rob people by taking away their ability to argue with perpetrators. These three represent serotonergic, dopaminergic, and anticholinergic hallucinogens only.
This is where amanita mushrooms come in, as hallucinogens that act on a different neurotransmitter, GABA. Amanita muscaria mushrooms – AKA fly agaric, (for their ability to attract and trap flies), are also wild mushrooms that produce some trippy effects, but with an entirely different mode of action then psilocybin mushrooms. Amanita mushrooms are considered poisonous mushrooms, and contain a compound called muscimol, which is GABAergic. This means it acts as an agonist on GABA receptors, and does so in the same way as GABA itself; rather than attaching to different receptor sites like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and Quaaludes.
These mushrooms also contain ibotenic acid, which is the compound more likely to make a person sick. This compound is a prodrug (a compound which is biologically inactive until metabolization), and is metabolized in the body to become muscimol. This is similar to psilocybin, which is also a prodrug, and which is useless in the human body until it changes into the other compound found in magic mushrooms, and the real compound of interest, psilocin.
Whereas psilocin acts on serotonin receptors, creating a stimulant response along with its psychedelic effects, muscimol acts on GABA receptors that calm the body down. Amanita mushrooms therefore won’t cause the same kind of ‘bad trip’ as psilocybin mushrooms, since there’s no stimulant effect. They do, however, come with their own reasons for caution in how they’re prepared and eaten, so as not to make a user feel sick. Neither mushroom group is known to cause death (despite the name ‘poisonous’), so even a bad experience with either is only temporary.
Amanita mushrooms are less well-known in the Americas as they’re not native to this region. For the most part they’re found around Northern Europe and Russia (particularly Siberia), and factor into medicinal and shamanistic traditions in those regions. This is probably why they aren’t scheduled in the US Controlled Substances list, which makes them legal to have and use in the US.
A little about Psyched Wellness & Calm
Psyched Wellness is a publicly traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange under (CSE:PSYC), which used to be Duncan Park Holdings Corporation. Based out of Toronto, Psyched Wellness is a life sciences company which just finished a pilot run for its new amanita mushrooms product, Calm.
This main offering of the company, Calm, is the first approved amanita mushroom product to hit US markets. According to the company, its made 100% from amanita mushroom caps, is lab tested, detoxified to ensure no bad effects (no ibotenic acid), and can be used to “reduce stress, ease muscular tension, and promote restorative sleep.” The company is taking preorders for the product right now, and interested buyers can reserve themselves a 1 fluid ounce bottle for $49.99. Products are expected to officially hit the market in the fall.
Calm registers as a dietary supplement, which is advertised as ethically sourced. The main component, according to the company’s site, is AME-1 which was developed in the Psyched Wellness laboratories to mimic the naturally extracted compound muscimol. It does not contain naturally occurring muscimol. As this is not a controlled substance, and doesn’t require a prescription, the company is free to sell it without the same complications that currently exist with psilocybin mushrooms, which are still federally illegal as they sit in Schedule I of the controlled substances list.
The company is looking to expand its product offering in the future. According to CEO Jeffrey Stevens, “It has been a long journey to get to this point, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my co-founder, David Shisel, our team, KGK Science and Vantage Hemp for all of their hard work and commitment to get us to where we are today. The most exciting part for me is that we have just scratched the surface with respect to potential uses and delivery forms for AME-1. Stay tuned for more to come from Psyched.”
Aside from this compound, the company also sells accompanying sweatshirts, bags, T-shirts, phone covers, water bottles, hats, and mugs, some emblazoned with the well-known image of the red capped mushroom with white spots. While Super Mario Brothers certainly kept this image alive for years, its new entrance into the US sales market is sure to give it an extra popularity boost in the near future.
A bit more on muscimol from amanita mushrooms
For many people, these mushrooms represent something completely new. Whereas psilocybin mushrooms have been used in the Americas for millennia, both for medical and recreational purposes, amanita mushrooms are not well-known to this part of the world. They are therefore a mystery to Americans in terms of what they can do, what to be wary of, and how they differ from standard magic mushrooms. In an interview with Technology Networks, Jeff Stevens gave some insight into these ‘other’ hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Of muscimol he says, “Muscimol is one of the main psychoactive compounds found in the Amanita muscaria mushroom along with ibotenic acid and muscarine. Although it does have psychoactive properties, the effect is very different from psilocybin or psilocin. It reacts with the GABAA receptor and when ingested, it can provide feelings of euphoria and tranquility, an altered sense of hearing and taste, changes to sensory perception and vivid dreams.”
He goes on to stipulate that “If it is not processed properly, where the ibotenic acid is not converted to muscimol, it can provide quite a nasty experience including sweating, nausea, loss of balance and involuntary bodily movements.” This helps explain how amanita mushrooms can cause negative effects, but don’t have to so long as the right usage techniques are employed.
In terms of why we’re only hearing about muscimol now, he says, “We believe the reason muscimol has not been studied to a large degree is because it has been mislabeled as poisonous and as such was overlooked. As a result, there’s not been a lot of scientific studies conducted on muscimol so groups like Psyched Wellness need to start from the ground up, making it more time consuming and more expensive.”
When it comes to the legality of the mushrooms, he explains, “Amanita muscaria are considered food and are principally regulated under the Federal Drug Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act in Canada and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and The Nutrition Labelling and Education Act in the USA. As a result, the challenges that other compounds face with extraction, regulation and or administration are not a factor.”
Psyched Wellness has been going over accumulated research on these mushrooms, looking for different applications. Says Stevens, “we believe muscimol could show positive indications for various mental and physical health issues, including sleep, insomnia, addiction and pain.”
Amanita mushrooms represent a different option in the world of hallucinogenic treatment. It’s not just about standard psychedelics anymore, and amanita mushrooms, with their main psychoactive constituent muscimol, offer an entirely different approach to helping with mental and physical health.
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Double Standards – Will Biden Keep His Cannabis Reform Promises?
Regardless of what side of the political fence you’re on, there is one thing everyone can agree on: Republicans are more conservative, and Democrats are more liberal – especially when it comes to progressive drug policies. And while this statement rings true almost 100% of the time, the exact opposite applies to our current president, Joe Biden.
While Biden has made many cannabis-related promises along the campaign trail and during his time in office, and he has supported a handful of modest reform proposals, the White House has made it very clear that his overall position on adult-use legalization has not changed over the years: he is NOT in favor. And this is despite overwhelming support for progressive policy change among voters in his party.
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Biden’s daughter-in-law shops for weed with secret service detail
In the most recent Biden-cannabis drama, it was reported last month by the Daily Mail that Melissa Cohen, wife of Hunter Biden and the president’s daughter-in-law, was seen leaving a Malibu-based dispensary called 99 High Tide, and she was carrying a “small unidentified purchase”. Additionally, it was noted that following Cohen was a plain-clothed secret service agent.
Although cannabis is recreationally legal in California and many other states, it’s still federally prohibited… and that’s not exactly where the issue lies anyway. The real problem here, is the idea of using a federally funded secret service to protect one of Biden’s relatives during a pot transaction, while tens of thousands of people remain behind bars for past nonviolent possession charges.
In giving the benefit of the doubt, it’s plausible that Cohen was in the store buying one of their few high-CBD products – which are federally legal. However, while searching through their online menu, I found only one product that fit the bill; the rest of their “CBD products” contained various ratios of THC and CBD, all of which resulted in more than 0.3% THC, and thus, more than the federally legal limit. So, while there is a slight possibility that Cohen was buying CBD products at a recreational cannabis dispensary, it’s highly unlikely.
It’s also worth noting that the Daily Mail’s claim of Cohen having a secret service agent in tow could not be independently verified, as the White House would not respond to questions from the various news sources who have reached out for comments.
White house staffers fired for admitting to past cannabis use
Last spring it was reported through various news outlets that “dozens of young White House staffers, freshly hired were abruptly told to quit, were suspended from their jobs, or otherwise punished “due to past marijuana use.” This happened after the staffers personally admitted to having used cannabis in the past on security clearance application forms. It’s worth noting that cannabis has been legal for adults 21 and older in Washington D.C. since 2015.
The firings and suspensions fly in the face of the more progressive appearance that the White House is trying to present, and their new policies. In February (one month before this incident), the White House Office of Personnel Management stated that past cannabis use was no longer an automatic employment disqualifier, and that federal agencies “should exercise special care before making a determination of unsuitability” in such circumstances.
Whether the staffers’ cannabis use was recreational or medical, legal or illegal, was never made clear. Of the few staffers who commented, under anonymity, the general consensus was that it would not have mattered either way. “The policies were never explained, the threshold for what was excusable and what was inexcusable was never explained,” mentioned one former employee.
The reason why cannabis is considered a “national security risk” or a disqualifier for federal employment, also remains unclear. Both the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and NSA (National Security Agency) have recently updated their policies on past cannabis use, claiming that it was difficult to find hackers and cybersecurity experts with clean drug records.
Biden’s sketchy history with drug reform
He’s made improvements over the years, but as his documented history shows us, there were very few D.C. lawmakers who were tougher on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s than Senator Joe Biden from Delaware. During the entirety of those 2 decades, Biden was a prominent figure in the War on Drugs and was responsible for unjustly imprisoning tens of thousands of Americans – many of which were minority or low-income individuals – on trumped up drug charges, including thousands for cannabis.
Specifically, Biden introduced numerous bills with that would implement harsh penalties for those convicted of producing and distributing federally prohibited, or schedule 1, narcotics. These bills called for increased severity in dealing with first offenders, as well as longer prison sentences for all. One specific piece of legislature that comes to mind is the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which sounds good but unfortunately played a key role in mass incarcerations for drug offenses, even many who were not involved in violent crimes.
Biden’s stance never really changed, with him quoted making anti-cannabis comments as recently as 2010. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it,” Biden stated in an ABC News Interview. “The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.”
However, Biden claims that his views on marijuana have improved lately – but he can say whatever he wants, his actions, however, raise questions. Knowing that Americans want cannabis legalized and available to them, Biden completely changed his tune come January 2019. “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces [of marijuana] and legalizing it. The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug,” Biden claimed.
A few months later, while speaking with New Hampshire voters in May 2019, Biden commented that, “Nobody should be in jail for smoking marijuana.” He laid out a ‘plan’ for decriminalizing marijuana, if elected, and automatically expunging existing criminal records for possession by reclassifying cannabis to a Schedule II substance (it is currently a Schedule I, reserved for drugs with the highest potential for abuse and addiction).
And in his last 2 years as president, he has acted on exactly zero of his cannabis-related promises. Cannabis is still not federally legal, or even decriminalized, people are still getting in trouble for it in prohibition states, and many are still serving prison time for old cannabis charges in states that have recently legalized. So again, his actions show much less support than he likes to claim.
In one of his latest moves, he suggested forced rehabilitation for anyone caught with drugs. According to President Biden, “nobody convicted of a drug crime should go to prison, they should go to mandatory rehabilitation,” he emphasized at a campaign event in Kenosha, Wisconsin late last year. “Instead of building more prisons… we [should] build rehabilitation centers.” And while I completely agree with the first half of the statement, the idea of putting a cannabis user in rehab, just sounds completely asinine. Although it seems that he’s trying (a little bit), at best, he’s just very out of touch with what modern day drug policy should look like, and what his voters are asking for.
And Vice President Kamala Harris is not much better, claiming to support legalization and even bragging about having smoked in the past, but her resume says otherwise. During her career as San Francisco district attorney, Harris oversaw roughly 1,900 marijuana convictions (1,500 of which were African American males, for the record). NORML executive director Erik Altieri describes her history on drug reform has been “problematic,” and her “record is not one anyone would qualify as progressive, particularly when it comes to marijuana.”
Biden pardons a few cannabis offenders
And when I say “a few”, I truly mean that. More specifically, he pardoned 3 people and commuted the sentences of 78 offenders, out of the estimated 40,000 people who remain locked up on weed charges. Before getting further into the details, let’s quickly go over the difference between pardons and commuted sentences A pardon completely removes the conviction as if it never happened, so the person’s record is clear, whereas a commuted sentence still stands but the punishment is reduced or completely revoked.
The news of the pardons and commuted sentences were announced on Tuesday, April 25th of this year. All of the pardoned offenders had been previously released to serve time in their homes during the pandemic, a privilege that was granted to a total of 8.300 inmates because of COVID-related issues and prison overcrowding. One of the pardons given, and eight of the commuted sentences, were related to cannabis.
Now, it’s important to note that this was not part of some cannabis-related project or anything special that Biden was doing. These pardons and commuted sentences were done in clemency grants as part of Biden’s first year in office – and this is standard for ALL presidents during their first year. Call it a presidential ‘get out of jail free’ card, if you will, but regardless, it had nothing to do with commuting the sentences of cannabis users specifically, even though some of the offenders who got pardoned and commuted were convicted of non-violent marijuana crimes.
New cannabis legalization bill from Chuck Schumer
The reason this matters (well, it always matters, but the reason it’s more relevant now) is because a new decriminalization bill was introduced by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Thursday, July 21st. The bill isn’t exactly new, Schumer has been working on it for years, waiting for the right time to make it official.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would effectively decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, but would allow individual states to regulate it as they see fit. So, some states can still choose to keep it illegal, although that seems unlikely. That said, it’s hard to say how likely it is that this bill will even pass at all. Yes, Schumer circulated the bill around for the last few months getting feedback for how to make it foolproof, but there are still a few major potential obstacles in the way.
First, we have the Senate. Although legalization/decriminalization bills have passed the House of Representatives, they have all died when reaching the Senate for a vote. Beyond the Senate, the main concern here is Biden. Should the bill make it his desk, will he off on it? He claims to support decriminalization (hopefully more so now that we all know his daughter-in-law shops at dispensaries), but his history, as well as his areas of focus while in office, say otherwise.
In all fairness, it’s not surprising to see an old man stuck in such dated ways. It’s reminiscent of many of our own grandparents who just won’t get with the times. But a politician should be more in touch with what the general population wants, and data from Politico consistently shows that roughly 70% of Americans want cannabis legalized. With this new bill in the works, it’s very possible that the ball will soon be in Biden’s court – and it will be interesting to see what he does with it.
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Switzerland Implements Wide-Reaching Medical Cannabis Program
All eyes are on Switzerland as the country makes big moves to start its own cannabis industry. The country announced plans for a recreational measure last year, and now Switzerland is introducing a wide-reaching medical program that goes far beyond its previous limits.
Switzerland is on a rampage, both widening its medical cannabis program, and awaiting new recreational legislation. Cannadelics is an independent news source focusing on the cannabis and psychedelics fields of today. Remember to subscribe to The Cannadelics Weekly Newsletter all the latest news and industry stories, as well as exclusive deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and other products. Also save big on Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, Delta-10 THC, THCO, THCV, THCP & HHC products by checking out our “Best-of” lists!
Switzerland up until now
Switzerland is all over the board these days, but up until recently, this was not the case. So what was the deal with Switzerland up until its impressive moves of late? First off, Switzerland is not a part of the EU, so it never had to go by EU regulation. Whereas products with up to .3% THC are legal in EU countries, Switzerland has a max THC level of 1%. Outside of this, cannabis is illegal.
In 2012, the country instituted a decriminalization measure which allowed for small amounts of cannabis (up to 10 grams) with only a 100 Swiss Franc fine, and no jail time included. Once either the 10-gram limit is gone over, or the 1% THC limit, a violator is subject to both a fine, and a prison sentence up to three years.
A lot happened in 2012, though it didn’t all stick. That year, certain cities gained the ability to legally grow low-THC hemp, up to the 1% limit. But then, Just months after this started, the government itself nullified this ability, because it said it was in violation of federal drug laws. Switzerland operates like many multi-state countries where cannabis penalties vary between its different states.
In another 2012 measure, legislation was instituted that made both selling cannabis, as well as possessing amounts enough to affect as many as three people, punishable by up to three years in jail, along with a possible fine. This was updated in 2017 to exclude possession, and to only fine those actively using; which allowed many states to drop possession cases for small amounts.
In terms of Switzerland and a medical cannabis program, the country didn’t have a comprehensive one until current events. The Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances in 2008 (implemented in 2011) allows Swiss doctors to get special permits to prescribe cannabis to terminal patients, for 12 months at a time. It also requires patients to apply for authorization from the FOPH (Federal Office of Public Health). Only tinctures and oils were approved by this measure, and its hardly wide-ranging, with only two pharmacies able to provide such medications.
This didn’t stop the pharma medicine Epidiolex from gaining approval in 2018, even as flowers and resin are both barred. From this time, however, pharmacies have been able to create specific CBD formulations for patients. Overall, the ability to access cannabis medicines has been highly restricted in Switzerland, though recent changes are now opening the country to much wider usage, with even bigger plans for the future.
Switzerland updates medical program
Everything just mentioned about Switzerland and its medical program, has now been updated thanks to a new amendment put forth by the country’s seven-member Federal Council, which is the country’s joint head of state and federal government. This amendment updates the Narcotics Act to erase the ban on medical cannabis, which in turn creates a much wider market.
Starting in the beginning of August, patients no longer have to apply for the authorization from the FOPH, and can now get a regular prescription, straight from their doctor. The new amendment isn’t just meant for patients in Switzerland, but predictably for an export market as well (very few legalizations of this sort don’t include the ability for an export market). Less was stated about an impending import market. The limit for THC is still the same for all products, at 1%.
Part of the reason for this change, was due to increasing demand for medical authorizations, which had grown to the point of burdening the government with extra administrative work, which led to treatment delays for patients in need. The conditions for treatment also expand under this new amendment, letting more people benefit from cannabis medication.
According to the government, this update should be beneficial to those suffering from spastic diseases, and pain issues. Prior to the update, approximately 3,000 approvals for medical cannabis were given yearly to those suffering from the likes of neurological diseases, MS, and cancer.
In order for the amendment to take effect, it required changes to the Narcotics Control Ordinance and the Narcotics List Ordinance. Cultivation regulation for this new medical industry falls under the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic).
Nothing was updated concerning reimbursement for cannabis medications by the healthcare system of the country. As medical cannabis is only reimbursed in the most dire of cases, this indicates that many people will be paying out of pocket for their cannabis medicine, even when legally prescribed by a doctor. The reason given for this omission is that there isn’t enough available evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment, which makes very little sense since it was considered effective enough to be legalized for this purpose.
What about a full recreational legalization?
Switzerland looks like it will be the first country in Europe to set up a regulated sales market, along with trials meant to help establish new regulation. In 2020 I reported about the Swiss government green-lighting trials for recreational cannabis, a project that has been in the works for many years. The trials will allow the legal production and sale of cannabis, but only in specific locations and with many restrictions. In September of 2020, the Federal Act on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances was officially amended by way of parliamentary approval, which allows scientific trials for selected groups. This went into effect May, 2021.
These regulations set maximum THC limits to 20%, come with limits for pesticide residue, and also mandate warning labels. In order to be a part of these trials, and have access to this recreational cannabis, individual cities and municipalities must first prove that recreational cannabis is not hurting their current population.
As of April 2022, the first of these recreational test programs was authorized specifically for Basel, Switzerland. This specific program is meant to last two years, includes 400 adults, and essentially is meant to provide data for future pricing and consumption regulation, for a full recreational market.
Though the pilot studies sound interesting, they’re really only to help with what’s coming. Even before the programs officially started, a parliamentary commission made a vote in October 2021, which ruled that cannabis shouldn’t be banned, and that the country must establish legislation to officially legalize it. In essence, Switzerland has legalized recreational cannabis, and is simply waiting for a bill (the vote doesn’t change anything without written legislation).
The whole thing is a little confusing. Switzerland is pushing for scientific trials to assess how to run a recreational market, while already working on the legislation to set up that market. And to make it more confusing, the basics of this began before Switzerland even implanted a full medical system, which is only happening now. Somehow none of this seems like its in the right order, but one thing for sure is, progress is great, no matter how it comes. And Switzerland is sure in the fast lane to major cannabis reform.
Perhaps competition with Germany is part of what’s spurring this on so quickly. The neighboring countries are both planning for recreational legalizations, and are both getting amped up to enter the global market. Switzerland for its part is working on both ends. Updating its medical program, before instituting its recreational one.
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