Could cannabis reform be on the cards for the Channel Islands?
While Guernsey and the Channel Islands are ahead of the UK and appear to be leading the way in Europe when it comes to medical cannabis, the introduction of an import fee could make medical cannabis much less accessible for those in dire need.
Guernsey’s Health and Social Care Committee has announced patients accessing their medical cannabis products through clinics in the UK will have to pay an extra £25 fee for imported products to cover the cost of processing licence applications for businesses producing medical cannabis on the island.
Cultivation has seen slow progress
Although Guernsey’s government began issuing licenses for medical cannabis cultivation in 2019, cultivators were only officially given permission to begin growing in July 2021, meaning any raw materials would have to be imported until home-grown plants reached maturity.
Meanwhile, Guernsey’s government is set to debate the potential legalisation of recreational cannabis in 2022 following previous moves to reform policy. Deputy in the States of Guernsey, Gavin St Pier is in favour of a regulated, legalised recreational cannabis market, stating “Just like the medicinal cannabis industry, you can regulate the market, tax it and turn it into a revenue stream.”
Guernsey’s government began issuing licenses for medical cannabis cultivation and specialist prescribers were permitted to begin prescribing cannabis-based medicines back in 2019, but cannabis remains a Class B drug, meaning that the cultivation, sale, import, and supply of the drug outside of ‘medicinal’ need is still restricted.
A cautious approach in Jersey
Several senior ministers and officials from the government of Jersey have spoken about legalising recreational cannabis on the island and Jersey’s Deputy Chief Minister has offered his support to “a more cautious approach” to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.
A multi-stakeholder cannabis trade organisation – the Cannabis Services Advisory Board – has launched on the island of Jersey in preparation for the next phase of the regulated cannabis sector in the British Isles.
There appears to be a very mixed message coming out of the Channel Islands, with moves to reform outdated legislation opening up the cannabis market, while import duties to offset the cost of issuing licences will limit access to even medical-grade cannabis. Perhaps this is ultimately designed to protect Guernsey’s ‘home grown’ medical cannabis products and boost government revenue streams. It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds next year.
If your business is set to take advantage of a change in the law in the Channel Islands, get in touch if we can help with equipment to enable your first step onto the cannabis and hemp processing ladder.