After consulting with the relevant cantons and communes, the FOPH can authorise scientific pilot trials with narcotics containing an effective concentration of cannabinoids. The applicable conditions are set out in the Federal Council’s implementing provisions (Ordinance on Pilot Trials Conducted under the Narcotics Act, NarcPT).
On 15 May 2021, an amendment to the Narcotics Act entered into force allowing a ten-year research phase for scientific pilot trials involving the controlled dispensing of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes (recreational cannabis).
Under Art. 8a para. 1 NarcPT, in order to be granted an exceptional licence for the cultivation, import or manufacture of narcotics containing an effective concentration of cannabinoids that are to be dispensed as part of the pilot trials, a complete and eligible pilot trial application must be submitted. Applications must therefore be submitted in a coordinated manner by the relevant public or private organisations. As the authorising body, the FOPH coordinates the associated authorisation procedure.
Due to the complexity of the authorisation procedure, a three-month processing period is generally to be expected. The procedure includes a comprehensive examination of the legal requirements, coordination of the decisions with the ethics committees and, last but not least, consultation with the cantons and communes concerned. Experience shows that several rounds of clarification with the applicants are necessary.
The responsible public or private organisers are responsible for designating cultivators and manufacturers for their pilot trials. The FOPH does not designate producers, or conduct its own pilot trials.