The End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey Facebook group was established in May 2020 following public outcry on social media to news of police raids on people cultivating cannabis for personal use.
Within a week, over 2,500 people had joined our group, which swelled to over 4,000 in the first month – all united in the belief that it is no longer in the public interest to prosecute the personal possession/cultivation of cannabis in Jersey.
Members were initially encouraged to sign an unrelated e-petition to
"legalise, decriminalise and regulate cannabis for islanders", which although imperfect received over 3,000 signatures – despite having already received a negative Ministerial response weeks earlier.
It was however apparent that an e-petition would be unlikely to lead to cannabis reform and so plans were instead made for a paper petition with an associated report for presentation to the States Assembly, calling for Government to develop proposals for the decriminalisation of the personal possession and cultivation of cannabis in Jersey.
Despite our optimism, concerns for the viability of the paper petition approach, particularly with regard to whether there was sufficient support in the States Assembly for such a proposition, led to the plans being shelved in early 2021.
Shortly after the formation of the ECPJ, some of the initial patients who had been prescribed medicinal cannabis remotely by The Medical Cannabis Clinics in London received their first deliveries and posted of their experience to the group.
Members eagerly shared information on the process involved in accessing medicinal cannabis, leading to a rapid increase in demand from Jersey patients - and ultimately the establishment of four specialist clinics in the Island.
Following this news, the ECPJ engaged with the other cannabis clinics and specialist pharmacies in the UK to ensure that they could also accommodate patients from Jersey, and by mid-August we had received confirmation from all parties.
In order to help explain the options and the process for accessing a prescription, the information provided by members in the group was collated into a PDF 'Guide to Accessing Medicinal Cannabis for Eligible Patients in Jersey' and published on the cannabis.org.je website.
Due to the frequency of posts in the ECPJ group relating to accessing medicinal cannabis, it was decided that a patients group be created to accommodate these concerns separately to those of the wider cannabis reform campaign. The Jersey Medicinal Cannabis Patient Alliance was thereby founded in August 2020 to advocate for medicinal cannabis patients in the Island.
While we had anticipated opportunities in 2021/22 for targeted campaigning on cannabis issues in relation to States of Jersey workstreams on the draft Crime Law, the new Drug and Alcohol Strategy, and the associated Scrutiny reviews, we were unfortunately unable to do so as these projects have all been delayed until after the elections.
From the outset of the ECPJ, it was evident that our best chance to get cannabis issues on the political agenda would be in the run up to the 2022 elections.
With only 16 weeks to go until the polling stations open on the , End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey is now focused on our electioneering campaign, commencing with the launch today of our Recommendations for Reform presentation.
It is our hope that by actively campaigning on cannabis issues during the election period, we can help bring about much needed and timely reform to Jersey's approach to cannabis.
Follow our progress over the coming weeks as we engage with parties and candidates, here on our website and on the ECPJ social media channels.
À bétôt et à la préchaine,
The ECPJ Team.