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Raphael Mechoulam has passed away at the age of 92*

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« His research group discovered the first endocannabinoid in 1992, which he named anandamide. »

International Alliance for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM)

On 9 March 2023, Raphael Mechoulam, professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, passed away at his home in Jerusalem at the age of 92. He is often referred to as the father or grandfather of cannabinoid research because of his ground-breaking discoveries. He had first determined the exact chemical structure of the cannabis active ingredient delta-9-THC in 1964, together with Yehiel Gaoni, and his research group discovered the first endocannabinoid in 1992, which he named anandamide.*

Raphi, as he was called by his friends, enjoyed high international recognition not only because of his great scientific achievements, but also because of his impressive personality, which made him a role model and inspiration for many scientists. He contributed significantly to improving the lives of thousands and thousands of people with severe diseases through cannabis treatment. We were fortunate and honoured to have him as a member of the IACM Board of Directors for many years and as Chairman of the IACM from 2003-2005. Among many other awards given to him during his life, he received the IACM Special Award in 2014 for his contributions to the re-introduction of cannabis and cannabinoids into medicine.*

We will miss him. He will live on in our hearts.*

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Vaud wants to supervise future cannabis sales pilot trials*

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« The canton does not intend to launch a trial of this type itself, but it supports the principle. »

The Vaud government

The Vaud Council of State wants to supervise pilot trials for the sale of cannabis for non-medical purposes. The Lausanne Cann-L project will be the first to see the light of day in the canton, after the final authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (OFSP), reports RTS.*

The Vaudois government submits to the Grand Council a draft decree which specifies the role of the cantonal authorities in monitoring and supervising the pilot projects. This is particularly the case in terms of safety and public health.*

Support for the principle of such trials*

The canton does not intend to launch a trial of this type itself, but it supports the principle, he explains in a press release on Thursday.*

In particular, it is planned to set up a monitoring and control commission. It will be responsible, in association with the FOPH, for monitoring the implementation of the trials, their coordination and the processing of any reports and complaints. This commission will be chaired by the cantonal doctor and will bring together experts, representatives of the municipalities and of justice and police circles.*

The canton will contribute to the financing of the scientific part of the trial. For this purpose, he is requesting an amount of 525,000 francs for three years.*

Dedicated store in the center of Lausanne*

On May 20, Lausanne presented its cannabis sales pilot project. The objective is to measure the effects of a regulated sales model on consumers and drug trafficking. Cannabis should be sold in a dedicated store downtown.*

A first study on the regulated sale of cannabis began at the end of January in pharmacies in Basel. Other projects are awaiting final authorization from the FOPH, notably in Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva.*

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Start of the pilot project for the sale of cannabis in pharmacies in Basel*

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« 374 people who all regularly consume cannabis will benefit from this study. »


The city of Basel has been offering cannabis for sale in nine pharmacies since Monday. This pilot project, the first in Switzerland, offers a “regulated” sale reserved for around 370 participants. The goal: to study the health effects of a legal distribution of this type of product, reports RTS.*

The legal basis at the federal level to launch this pilot project, called “Weed care”, came into force in 2021. The Basel project is carried out jointly by the cantonal Department of Health, university psychiatric clinics, as well as psychiatric services in Aargau and the University of Basel.*

In French-speaking Switzerland, the cities of Lausanne and Geneva are on edge with a similar pilot project. All that is missing is the green light from the Federal Office of Public Health to be able to launch the production of cannabis and the recruitment of participants in the study.*

More than 370 people concerned*

In Basel, 374 people who all regularly consume cannabis will benefit from this study. It is a little over 300 men, about sixty women and six non-binary people. The youngest is 18, the oldest 76. The average age is 36.*

From today, a first group of around 180 people can buy cannabis products. The second group will start in six months. They will all receive questionnaires on their consumption habits and their health at two-month intervals. An interim report for the attention of the Federal Office of Public Health will be drawn up within a year.*

How to get cannabis*

In addition to their identity card, the participants will have to present a kind of student card which allows them to stock up in nine pharmacies located in different districts of the city of Basel.*

Two products based on hashish and four products based on cannabis flowers, all made in Switzerland, are offered to them with more or less THC, the main active molecule of cannabis intended to provide the feeling of relaxation.*

Prices will align with the local black market, i.e. between 8 and 12 francs per gram, depending on the product and the THC content.*

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Hemp brings hope for a better world to the UN*


« In the European Union, one must respect one microgram per kilo of body weight, against seven in Switzerland. This tolerance does not however have an intoxicating effect. Nobody in Switzerland has ever suffered because of ‘a bread produced with hemp flour. This is a very safe bet that Europe should follow. »

Lorenza Romanese, director of the European Industrial Hemp Association

What if hemp was the plant of the future? The UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) brought together industry players and representatives of States interested in this plant with multiple virtues on Wednesday in Geneva, reports RTS.*

The United Nations is convinced that legal cannabis is one of the keys to sustainable development. Largely under-exploited, its virtues are nevertheless numerous. This superfood grows easily, enriches the soil and is a super ecological textile fiber. Its cultivation requires, for example, 70% less water than cotton and almost no pesticides.*

Hemp can also be used for the manufacture of ecological building material. In this respect, France is a pioneer. “Thirty years ago, France was the first to develop a construction system based on the use of lime mixed with a part of hemp”, explains in La Matinale Pascal Mortoire, member of the French umbrella organization of hemps. *

He develops: “The shiv, the woody part of hemp which contains lignin, has several interesting properties. It is in particular a perfect insulator. It makes an absolutely incredible construction and insulation material, which resists fire, which allows use in all rooms. This allows the use of far fewer petroleum-based products.*

Exploited massively in the past*

Despite all these qualities, hemp is hardly cultivated. “The area at the global level dedicated to the cultivation of legal hemp corresponds to less than 0.02% of cultivated areas. There is therefore potential”, explains Marco Fugazza, economist at UNCTAD.*

However, hemp has not always been shunned so much. For centuries, until the 1940s, it was exploited massively in Europe, before being abandoned.*

“We substituted natural fibers with synthetic fibers – a synthetic derivative of petroleum – which came mostly from the United States,” explains Lorenza Romanese, director of the European Industrial Hemp Association.*

She explains that the plant has also fallen victim to its bad reputation: “Hemp ended up in the same basket as high-THC cannabis, and it was demonized. It all came from the United States, with a decision of Congress in 1937 to banish the entire botanical category of Cannabis sativa L.”*

The climatic argument should, however, favor its return to grace. “A hectare of classic hemp succeeds in trapping more carbon in five or six months than a hectare of primary forest. It’s absolutely incredible, it sequesters between ten and fourteen tons of carbon per year, and that without the use of pesticides and with very little fertiliser”, enthuses Pascal Mortoire.*

Legislative barriers*

Now, the ball is more than ever in the legislators’ court. Hemp cultivation suffers from numerous legal barriers, particularly in the European Union. Switzerland is a model student for some of its applications.*

“In terms of food, Switzerland is very advanced. It allows a much higher content of THC in foods, such as flour, products derived from the seed and hemp oil”, lists Lorenza Romanese.*

And to conclude: “In the European Union, one must respect one microgram per kilo of body weight, against seven in Switzerland. This tolerance does not however have an intoxicating effect. Nobody in Switzerland has ever suffered because of ‘a bread produced with hemp flour. This is a very safe bet that Europe should follow”.*

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Effects of rich cannabidiol oil on behavioral disturbances in patients with dementia: A placebo controlled randomized clinical trial

Frontiers in medicine
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Hong Kong to ban CBD*

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« The trade and the public should arrange early disposal of any CBD products in their possession to avoid contravention of the law. »

government spokesperson

Cannabis extract to be put in the same category as heroin and cocaine, reports the Hong Kong Post.*

Hong Kong will outlaw cannabidiol (CBD) by February, the government announced on Thursday, placing it in the same category as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine with users facing hefty jail time. The move is expected to wipe out businesses in the Chinese finance hub that had, until now, been able to sell CBD-infused products such as beers, coffee and health supplements.*
The changes to Hong Kong’s drug control laws, pending a final round of vetting by the city’s rubber-stamp legislature, will take effect from Feb 1.*
“The trade and the public should arrange early disposal of any CBD products in their possession to avoid contravention of the law,” a government spokesperson said.*
After the deadline, anyone who possesses or consumes CBD faces up to seven years in jail and fines of up to HK$ 1 million (US$ 127,000). CBD will be put alongside more than 200 substances classified as “dangerous drugs”, which all carry the same strict penalty.*
CBD is one of the active ingredients of cannabis but does not have psychoactive properties. Users have touted its relaxing and pain-relieving properties, though Hong Kong’s Security Bureau said such claims “lack authoritative scientific proof”.*
CBD is legal in some Asian nations including Thailand and Japan, as well as in the United States and parts of Europe.
John Lee, a former police officer who became Hong Kong’s chief executive in July, has taken a hard line on drugs.*
“Cannabis is a drug, and the government will categorise CBD as a dangerous drug … to protect the public’s health,” he said in a speech last month.*
China last year banned the use of CBD in cosmetic products.*

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Maryland legalizes cannabis*

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« 65.3% of Marylanders voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. »

State of Maryland

With 65.3% of the vote, Marylanders voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Such legalization was also subject to referendum in four other states, Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota and Dakota, reports the Swiss Radio Television (RTS).*

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A project to legalize cannabis presented by the German government

« The purchase and possession of “a maximum amount of 20 to 30 grams” will be allowed for personal consumption. »

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach

The German government agreed on Wednesday 26 October on a framework for the legalization of recreational cannabis, which would make Germany one of the most liberal countries in Europe. To come into effect, it must be approved by the European Commission, reports the Swiss Radio Television (RTS).

Under the new legal framework, which could come into effect as early as 2024, the production and trade of cannabis would be placed under “public control” for the entire supply chain. The purchase and possession of “a maximum quantity of 20 to 30 grams” will be allowed for personal consumption, said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

The text also authorizes the cultivation of three cannabis plants per adult for personal use. The sale would be “strictly controlled”, advertising would be prohibited and packaging would be largely regulated. Use by those under 18 would continue to be strictly prohibited.*

“We do not want to make the same mistakes as with alcohol or tobacco, because young people and children are those who react most to the promises of the advertising industry,” said the government commissioner for drugs and addiction.

Backing from Europe*

“We are in a phase where we are examining whether the outlines we have drawn up in this document are compatible with international and European law,” stressed the social-democrat minister.

If this is not the case, the document will not become law, he said, but he was relatively confident.

Ineffective repression

This reform comes in a context of increasing cannabis consumption in Germany. In 2021, the number of consumers or consumers is estimated at about four million people, a quarter of which were aged 18 to 24 years.*

The German government takes note, moreover, of the inefficiency of the current policy. A purely repressive policy that has “failed”, conceded the Minister of Justice.

“That’s why we want to legalize the use of cannabis in a responsible way. This means better quality products and health protection” and a relief for the justice system that can “focus on more important things,” he said on Twitter. *

Promised reform*

The legalization intends to address health and security issues, fighting against organized crime funded by the black market. It is a flagship reform promised by the center-left coalition when it was formed last December.*

The social democrats have long been against it. Minister Karl Lauterbach himself admits that he has changed his mind in the last two years. The conservative right, on the other hand, remains generally opposed.

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The sale of cannabis in pharmacies in Basel postponed indefinitely

Drapeau suisse

« This can take weeks or months. »

Regine Steinauer, Head of the Addiction Service of the Basel-Stadt Department of Health

The launch of the controlled sale of cannabis in pharmacies in Basel, scheduled for next Thursday, has been postponed until further notice. The products intended for this pilot project do not meet the required biological criteria, because they contain residues of phytosanitary products, reports the Swiss Radio Television (RTS).

The cannabic products grown by the firm Pure Production in Zeiningen (AG), commissioned by the canton of Basel-Stadt, have narrowly failed the quality test, said Friday the cantonal department of health.*

They will now be analyzed by an independent laboratory. In addition, the authorities will study the possibility of using other cannabic products from the same firm or other producers.*

The residues of phytosanitary products discovered on the cannabis provided by the company commissioned are not allowed in the organic mode of cultivation, says Regine Steinauer, head of the service of addictions of the department of health of Basel-City.*

No deadline*

The duration of the postponement is not yet known. “It could be weeks or months,” adds Regine Steinauer. In mid-August, the canton had announced that the controlled sale of cannabis in nine selected pharmacies would begin on September 15, as part of the first pilot project of its kind in Switzerland.*

A total of 370 selected regular cannabis consumers are expected to participate. Approximately 700 people have registered to participate in the study. The canton will contact the participants from mid-September.*

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Access to medical cannabis will be facilitated for patients

Drapeau suisse

« It will no longer be necessary to request an exceptional authorization from the FOPH to use cannabis for medical purposes. The new regulation will particularly benefit people suffering from severe chronic pain and spasticity. »

Federal Office of Public Health

The Federal Council intends to facilitate access to medical cannabis for patients. At its meeting on 22 June 2022, it therefore decided to lift the ban on medical cannabis in the Narcotics Law (LStup). An exceptional authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is no longer required for medical prescription. However, the sale and consumption of cannabis for non-medical purposes remains prohibited. The change in the law will come into force on August 1, 2022, reports the communication service of the Federal Office of Public Health.*

As of August 1, 2022, medical cannabis will be more readily available to patients. The decision to use a cannabis-based medicine for therapeutic purposes will be made by the doctor in consultation with the patient. It will no longer be necessary to apply to the FOPH for an exceptional authorization to use medical cannabis. The new regulation will particularly benefit people suffering from severe chronic pain and spasticity.*

Growing demand*

Until now, it was forbidden to cultivate or import cannabis or to process it into medical preparations without an exceptional permit. Furthermore, the treatment of patients with cannabis-based medicines not subject to authorization was only possible with an exceptional authorization from the FOPH and only in justified cases.*

The demand for such authorizations has increased in recent years. These time-consuming administrative procedures delay treatments, and the current situation no longer reflects the exceptional character provided for by the law on narcotics. The Federal Council therefore submitted to Parliament an amendment to the law to remove the ban on cannabis for medical purposes, which was adopted in March 2021. A narcotics prescription will still be required for such medicines.*

Lack of evidence of effectiveness for reimbursement*

The adaptation of the law does not change the conditions for reimbursement of cannabis-based medicines by the compulsory health insurance. Currently, they are only reimbursed in exceptional cases. The Federal Council has examined whether there is a need for action in this area. However, the available evidence on the efficacy and suitability of cannabis-based medicines is currently insufficient to allow for general coverage.*

The data that will now be collected by the Confederation on treatments with cannabis-based medicines may prove useful. The mandatory data collection serves to observe the evolution of the prescription of these drugs and to obtain more evidence on their effects. It is limited to the first seven years after the law is changed. The data obtained can support, but not replace, a specific claim for reimbursement of cannabis-based medications.*

Need to adapt the implementing legislation

Implementation of the law change requires adaptations to the Ordinance on the Control of Narcotics (OCStup) and the Ordinance on the Schedules of Narcotics (OCStup-DFI), scheduled for August 1, 2022. In particular, the control measures for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will be regulated in detail and Swissmedic will assume responsibility for them once the law is amended.*

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