Scrutiny finds current regulation for medicinal cannabis 'extremely concerning'

6th January 2022

A review by the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel has found it 'extremely concerning' that the Island does not have bespoke regulations to control its emerging medicinal cannabis industry. 

Current regulations are reliant on a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the UK Home Office and the Minister for Health and Social Services acting on behalf of the Government of Jersey. The Panel believes this is inadequate and wishes to see local industry regulations contained under a single piece of Island legislation.

The Panel is also concerned that cannabis can be exported without a European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU GMP) certification. This certification is the highest recognition available to pharmaceutical companies and requires rigorous testing to ensure compliance with strict EU regulations. The Panel recommends that all medicinal cannabis is exported from Jersey under the EU GMP certification. Without this, the Panel fears Jersey could be viewed as exporting lower grade medicinal cannabis, which may tarnish the Island's reputation.

Amongst the 29 key findings listed in the report, the Panel also found that:

  • There are blurred lines of accountability for an industry which cuts across several political responsibilities, making it difficult to see where Ministerial responsibility lies and particularly what role, if any, the Minister for the Environment plays in the industry. 
  • There are questions to be raised around the lack of transparency on Environmental Impact Assessments and whether these should be made public in line with existing planning regulations.
  • Whilst there is opportunity for the medicinal cannabis industry to be financially successful through employment, taxation and investment, future revenues are speculative and profitable tax intake is likely to remain minimal for several years.
  • The medicinal cannabis licence application fee is low compared to other jurisdictions and raises questions as to its economic viability.

In turn, the Panel has made 25 recommendations to the Council of Ministers, including that:

  • More coherent cross-departmental working and clearly defined lines of Ministerial responsibility need to be developed immediately.
  • A full business case should be essential to the licence application process and the licence fee immediately reviewed.

Chair of the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel, Deputy David Johnson, said: "The cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Jersey is promising as it demonstrates the potential for a thriving new sector within our Island's economy. However, we wish to ensure that it operates within a strong regulatory framework to encourage investment and enhance Jersey's strong international reputation. We hope that the Council of Ministers will seriously consider our recommendations as to the implementation of robust levels of regulation and other measures designed to ensure that this emerging industry maintains the high reputational standards for which Jersey is recognised."

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