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Swiss cannabis pilot projects as a guide for Germany's model projects?

Germany plans to legalize cannabis in a two-pillar model, including the introduction of regional model projects. In January 2023, similar projects in Switzerland have already started in Basel, with two further projects being approved in Zurich and Lausanne, starting at the end of summer. "The legalization models will be the most discussed topics at the upcoming European cannabis trade shows." 

On 12 April 2023, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented the new legalization plan, which is to take place in two pillars. First, Germans will be allowed to cultivate up to three cannabis plants at home for personal use and possess 25 grams of cannabis. Social clubs will also be allowed, where adult members can legally cultivate for non-commercial use. Secondly, regional model projects allow businesses to cultivate, distribute and sell recreational cannabis to adults through licensed and state-controlled shops. The aim of these projects is to scientifically study the impact of a commercial supply chain on health, youth protection, and the black market.

Expertise through Swiss pilot projects
In Switzerland, the first pilot project, 'Weed Care,' started at the end of January 2023. Its aim is to investigate the effects of a regulated market compared to the illicit market on problematic cannabis use, mental disorders, and physical health. Together with the other pilot projects recently approved in Zurich and Lausanne, Weed Care is to provide a scientific basis for future legal regulation in Switzerland.

Both the German model projects and the Swiss pilot projects will be the most discussed topics at the upcoming trade shows, such as Cannabis Europa in London or CannaTrade in Zurich. The Swiss company Vigia AG, provider of the track and trace software Cannavigia for the cultivation, processing, and distribution of cannabis, will be present at both fairs. CEO Luc Richner will be on site to talk about legalization models and the Swiss pilot projects and explains: "Even if some industry experts and people from the population see the new plan as a step backwards, for me, the two pillars are important milestones forward. Model or pilot projects are currently the only way to push forward and test legalization. As a partner of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health for the pilot projects, we are the only seed to sale software with experience in this area. We will be happy to share this expertise on the panels at the trade shows and with the industry."

For Richner, it is important that the end consumers are at the center: "We stand up for the fact that consumers need to know which products they are buying and consuming. A transparent and traceable supply chain is important for this. This is already being implemented in the Swiss pilot projects and must also be an essential basis for the German path."

Program at the upcoming trade fairs
Luc Richner, CEO, and Pia Meyer, Product Manager, will present the Swiss pilot projects at a 'State of Play Session' at Cannabis Europa in London (2-3 May), together with Christian Werz from the Federal Office of Public Health. This panel will take place on 2 May 2023 at 12.40 pm. Vigia AG is also supporting the trade show as a gold sponsor and will welcome visitors to stand GF09.

At CannaTrade in Zurich (12-14 May), the Swiss company will appear as a Business Lounge Sponsor to support the Swiss industry and to welcome clients and partners. Both Pia Meyer and Luc Richner will attend a panel at CannaTrade. On Friday, 12 May 2023, Richner will give a keynote speech on 'Pilot projects Switzerland - a model for Europe?' at 1.30 pm, followed directly by the panel 'Europe on the road to cannabis legalization: opportunity, risks and timeline' at 2 pm. Pia Meyer will speak with other experts at 3.30 pm on the panel 'Switzerland's path to legalization - The pilot projects and the parliamentary initiative.'

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