Legal sale of cocaine to be trialled in Bern

Legal sale of cocaine to be trialled in Bern

A controversial idea is getting people in the de-facto capital of Switzerland talking: the possibility of the legal procurement of cocaine. According to SRF, the city parliament in Bern has already voted in favour of a pilot project under which residents can legally purchase cocaine for personal use, but could other Swiss cities soon follow suit?

Pilot project in Bern to legalise sale of cocaine

The project in Bern aims to make purchasing cocaine legal from a number of pre-approved sites. The idea was initially proposed by the Alternative Left Party in the city, with the project’s proponents arguing that by having repressive drug policies, the city risked pushing the drug trade further underground, which in turn makes it harder to regulate the industry. 

“A repressive drug policy is currently being pursued. This drives trade and consumption underground,” Eva Chen, Alternative Left City Councillor for Bern, told SRF. "As a result, you have no control - and no possibility for preventive measures," she added. 

Zurich city officials express interest in Bern cocaine project

City officials in Zurich are already listening closely to the news coming out of Bern. According to SRF, FDP. The Liberals representatives in the city have already issued a position paper on the matter. “I could certainly imagine a pilot project in our city... That would certainly be a good attempt to gain experience,” said Përparim Avdili, FDP. The Liberals president for the city of Zurich.

Other Swiss cities are also keen to tackle issues relating to the sale of hard drugs on the black market. The FDP in Basel shares an interest in legalising, controlling and taxing the sale of drugs in order to regulate the market so that narcotics can be sold in a managed way. 

Pilot project faces opposition from medical community 

Though able to obtain strong political support, Bern’s cocaine project is raising some eyebrows within the medical community. Boris Quednow, senior psychologist and research coordinator at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatic Medicine at the Zurich University Hospital, told SRF about the harmful effects that taking hard drugs for recreational purposes can have on the body. 

“Memory problems already arise with recreational consumption, and not only with addictive consumption… That's what makes cocaine so special and different from opiates or alcohol or cannabis," Quednow told the Swiss broadcaster. He also stated that he does not believe controlled cocaine sales will solve many of the problems currently caused by the drug in Switzerland: namely, because there is no evidence that the legal sale of cocaine will actually result in the end of black market drug sales.

Emily Proctor


Emily Proctor

Emily grew up in the UK before moving abroad to study International Relations and Chinese. She then obtained a Master's degree in International Security and gained an interest in journalism....

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