Switzerland has always played a pioneering role in drug policy. In 1986, it was the first to open shelters for addicts and in 1994 it medically prescribed heroin. Today, its cities are looking at introducing cannabis social clubs – a controversial issue.
Former interior minister Ruth Dreifuss, nicknamed “dealer of the nation” for introducing ground-breaking drug policies, is one of the figureheads of the country’s legalisation campaign. One of her suggestions is to set up cannabis clubs, a concept her native Geneva is spearheading in Switzerland. Larger cities like Geneva, Bern, Basel and Zurich have created an expert working group to map out the details for a potential pilot project.
“We propose experimenting with a possible new model because we need evidence of how the black market, crime and public health would change as a result of regulation,” Dreifuss, also a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, explained. “The pilot project will give us experience and facts so we can design a new policy.”
The idea is to set up clubs where anyone over 18 can smoke marijuana in a regulated setting. The original concept was conceived in 2005 by the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD), a pan-European network of 140 NGOs and individuals.