How is cannabis currently prohibited in Jersey?
Classification and Scheduling.
In 1954, cannabis (then known as Indian hemp) was made illegal in Jersey with the introduction of the Dangerous Drugs Law.
The 1978 Misuse of Drugs Law repealed the 1954 law and classified cannabis and cannabis resin as Class B drugs and cannabinol and cannabinol derivatives as Class A.
The 2009 Misuse of Drugs (General Provisions) Order classified cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value.
The 2018 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Law which enabled the provision of medicinal cannabis updated the scheduling so that it is classified as a Schedule 2 drug (with medicinal value) when prescribed, while also explicitly prohibiting the smoking of medicinal cannabis.
Parish Hall Enquiry diversion schemes.
A series of Attorney General Directives issued in 1998, 2015, 2019 and 2022 allow for instances of possession of less than 15g of cannabis flower or resin to be dealt with at Parish Hall Enquiry by way of a Written Caution for first offence, and also second offence if more than a year has elapsed since the first. Subsequent offences result in referral to Court regardless of amount.
These Directives effectively introduced a diversion scheme for first and second offences of cannabis possession at Parish Hall Enquiry - a form of de facto decriminalisation (i.e. in guidelines).
Court sanctions for cannabis.
The maximum penalty for the possession of cannabis or cannabis resin is 5 years imprisonment or a fine or both, rising to 7 years for cannabinol or cannabinol derivatives. The cultivation or supply of cannabis meanwhile can receive a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment.
Court sentences for personal cannabis possession and cultivation vary but generally include a fine, community service, and/or probation - as well as a criminal record.
Notably, several recent cannabis cases that have appeared before the Royal Court have included the subsequent acquirement of a medicinal cannabis prescription by the accused, which has then been taken into account as a mitigating factor as they are consequently deemed unlikely to reoffend.
For many people, the young especially, a drugs-related criminal record is often more harmful than the drug itself, potentially curtailing travel and employment opportunities for life.