While The United States and all its 50 states that aren’t exactly united occupy most of the news stories regarding further cannabis legalization and economy, it’s important for activists and those who are personally or professionally invested in cannabis to understand that America is far from the only country that’s either slowly legalizing the plant or have already legalized entirely. Many countries across the globe with vast distances between one another have begun the process to decriminalize or fully legalize the once heavily prohibited plant within their own borders. As America’s unfortunately most influential representatives remain trapped in the failed era of prohibition and Harry Anslinger’s bigoted policies, other countries are moving forward with reforms that won’t happen in the United States for several more years still.
Medical cannabis is fully legal in countries that span the globe, from Israel to Barbados and from Brazil to New Zealand. Even if some completely impossible legislative miracle happens and cannabis is federally legalized within the next year or two in America, the US still wouldn’t even be in the top 10 first countries to fully legalize. As of writing, cannabis is recreationally legal in Canada, The Republic of Georgia, Malta, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, and Uruguay. About two weeks ago, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced that the coalition government would be discussing a legalization proposal that would make Germany the 8th country to fully legalize. Lauterbach even mentioned receiving positive feedback regarding cannabis legalization from the European Union, and an EU has already dealt with their affiliate country Malta legalizing.
Assuming the legislation passes, Germany would have a recreational cannabis law that’s written very similarly to the many American states that have legalized the plant. Under the measure, German citizens who are at least 18 can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and can grow up to three cannabis plants for home use. In a provision that will not be equally implemented in America for several more years, pharmacies in Germany may soon be able to sell cannabis.
Especially having both of their geographical neighbors with recreational cannabis legalization, America is in a strange place. As the United States Legislature continues to be embroiled in childlike tribalism and petty disagreements that get in the way of improving the quality of Americans’ lives, the country that claims to be the most innovative in the world will very much be left in the dust of global cannabis legalization and innovation.
Last week, the government of Switzerland announced their own plans to legalize cannabis in an interesting way. In a trial study that is “designed to assess the social and economic benefits of regulating the drug”, the Swiss government will allow 2,100 citizens to purchase “regulated doses” of the cannabis for personal use from pharmacies or dispensaries in Zurich. As a requirement of the study, the participants must answer a questionnaire every six months about consumption patterns and the study will be a collaborative effort with the prestigious University of Zurich.
Outside of Zurich, similar studies will be completed in the Swiss cities of Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Geneva, Biel, Thun, Olten and Winterthur.
The researchers are using the study to figure out how cannabis legalization can be implemented in Switzerland while also considering how the legalization of the intoxicating plant can take public safety and health into ultimate consideration.
“The idea is to get robust real world evidence that serves policymaking for new national regulation on cannabis,” Barbara Burri, project manager at Zurich’s municipal health department said.
Cannabis usage is already incredibly popular in Switzerland, as public health surveys estimate that approximately one third of adults have tried cannabis and an estimated 13,000 residents of Zurich regularly use cannabis.
The prospect of cannabis legalization in Switzerland could have global ramifications for the cannabis industry, and that’s due to the country’s largest city, Zurich. A financial capital of the world, ten of Switzerland’s 50 biggest companies all have headquarters in Zurich. Such notable examples of large companies with headquarters in the powerful city include Credit Suisse, UBS and Swiss Reinsurance Company. Most Swiss banks are headquartered in Zurich and the city is considered to have the highest quality of life according to a 2010 Mercer poll yet also the second most expensive city to live in according to a 2022 Mercer poll, a full five spots ahead of New York City. This combination of vast wealth and cannabis industrialization could be revolutionary for the emerging global market.