There are approximately 3,000 private medicinal cannabis patients in Jersey, many of whom struggle to afford the cost of their medication.
Approximately £6 million of medicinal cannabis flower and oil products were imported into Jersey in 2021, raising around £300,000 in GST charges.
Government and the States Assembly presently have little insight into the use of medicinal cannabis in Jersey and the issues that concern patients.
- A review should be undertaken of the use of medicinal cannabis in Jersey to gather data that can be used to address issues faced by patients and the medical profession in order to improve access.
Patient Access >
The Rural Economy Strategy 2017-21 recommended the development of high value alternative crops and recognised the potential of cannabis cultivation for the diversification of our economy.
Subsequently, several companies have been granted licences in the Island for the cultivation of hemp and medicinal cannabis. The Jersey Cannabis Agency has been established as the designated licensing authority following the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK Home Office, with further oversight of the industry provided by the Cannabis Coordination Group and a Political Oversight Group.
The Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel have recently completed a review of the medicinal cannabis cultivation industry, proposing 24 recommendations – 11 of which have been accepted/partially accepted by the Minister for Economic Development.
- In order to maximise the potential of the nascent cannabis industry, the incoming Government should embrace the opportunities presented by virtue of our early entry into this market, ensure greater transparency and develop sufficient regulations appropriate for the Island.
Cannabis Industry >
The Building a Safer Society Strategy, which provided the framework for Jersey's substance misuse strategy since 2005, concluded in 2019 without review or replacement.
The new Drug and Alcohol Strategy has been delayed by recruitment issues and will not be ready until at least the end of 2022.
Information provision is also lacking, with only a single page on the Gov.je website dedicated to the subject of drugs, which was written in 2014 or earlier. The PDF of the Parent's Guide to Drugs, the 6th and final edition of which was published in 2015, was removed from the Gov.je website in the autumn of 2021.
- The new Drug and Alcohol Strategy must be prioritised by the incoming Government to address alcohol and drug consumption in the Island within a progressive harm reduction framework, with provisions for adequate funding, appropriate direction and oversight, and up-to-date information resources.
Substance Use Strategy >
Possession of less than 15g of cannabis or cannabis resin is currently dealt with at Parish Hall Enquiry by way of a Written Caution for first offence, and also for a second offence if more than a year has elapsed since the first. Subsequent offences result in referral to Magistrate's Court.
The proposed Crime (Prejudice and Public Disorder) Law includes an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Law to introduce a level 1 fine (£200) for the repeat possession of Class B and C drugs that a Centenier may levy at Parish Hall Enquiry – which is effectively de jure decriminalisation as there would be no criminal record.
Due to consideration of new Scottish legislation with regard to the issue of prejudice, this legislation has been delayed until the end of 2022.
- The Government should present the Crime Law and it's associated amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Law to the States Assembly as soon as possible in the next term, with particular consideration given to updated Guidance from the Attorney General to enable the use of discretion by Centeniers at Parish Hall Enquiry.
Our approach to cannabis in the Channel Islands is on a progressive trajectory that will ultimately lead to the legalisation of this humble plant.
The Committee for Health and Social Care in Guernsey recently suggested that they
"work towards legalising cannabis in this political term" as part of
"a public health approach".
Given the rising number of jurisdictions that have either implemented cannabis legalisation or plan to do so in the near future, it is simply a matter of time before Jersey follows suit.
- Government should investigate the legalisation of cannabis in Jersey in preparation for future reform, utilising research of international approaches, consultation and possibly a Citizen's Assembly to discern the regulatory model best suited for the Island and it's people.
Towards Regulation >