Cannevi / Future

The Future of Cannabis in Jersey

The below proposals have been superseded by End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey's Recommendations for Reform.


Proposals for Medicine

Free Prescriptions

The cost of medicinal cannabis on private prescription is expensive, making it inaccessible to many on low incomes.

1) Consideration should be given to the funding of medicinal cannabis by way of Individual Funding Requests or other appropriate mechanism for eligible patients with limited means.

Professional Training

"...if the Assembly supports [P.113/2018], I would seek [the Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council] advice upon the online courses or other training that might be available to G.P.s and their view on training G.P.s in the community to prescribe. So that we ensure, before any unlicensed medicines are made generally available in the community, they are carefully assessed and patients will not be exposed to undue risk." [1]

2) Appropriate training should be provided to medical professionals on cannabis and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to ensure confidence in the future administration of cannabis-based medicinal products.

Private / Co-operative Cultivation

In the UK, the Carly's Amnesty scheme is advocating for patients who meet certain eligibility criteria to be given consent by their local authority to grow their own cannabis for medicinal use.

3) Consideration should be given to providing certain patients with the opportunity to grow their own medicine - either indvidually or collectively - under licence and with supervision from the Health Department.

Decriminalise Smoking CBMPs

Article 2 a) of the 2018 Misuse of Drugs (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 7) (Jersey) Order criminalised the smoking of cannabis-based medicinal products, following UK legislation.

4) While the smoking of CBMPs should be dissuaded, those prescribed medicinal cannabis should not be criminalised for how they consume their medicine. Article 20 a) of the Misuse of Drugs (General Provisions) (Jersey) Order 2009 should be repealed.


Proposals for Drug Policy

Public Education

Information on cannabis currently available on the Government of Jersey website is limited to a short section on the Drugs and their effects webpage that was originally created in 2014 and a PDF of A Parent's Guide to Drugs that was last updated in 2015.

5) An information campaign should be undertaken in the Island to inform the general public about cannabis, with updated guidance published on the Government of Jersey website.

Substance Use Strategy

The Building a Safer Society (BaSS) strategy concluded in 2019, having provided initiatives to minimise "the harm caused by crime, anti-social behaviour and substance misuse" in Jersey since the implementation of the original 2005 BaSS strategy – itself a continuation of the Substance Misuse Strategy: 1999 to 2004.

The BaSS Community Safety and Substance Misuse Strategy for Jersey 2016-2019 introduced a move toward "strategic goals" and the ceased the publication of annual reports. That same year, the Director of the Alcohol and Drug Service retired and the position has remained vacant ever since.

"Mr Gafoor warned that if he is not replaced there will be a gap in providing expert advice to the States on drug strategy and policy." [2]

Since 2015, there does not appear to have been published a single study or account of drug use in the Island.

6) A review of the BaSS 2016-2019 strategy should be undertaken by Scrutiny in order to ascertain its performance and ensure that any findings are considered in the formulation of the new Drug and Alcohol Strategy.

7) A health-centric approach should be taken with the new Drug and Alcohol Strategy; consultation with academics, interested parties and the public should be required as part of the development process.

8) Consideration should be given to the recruitment of a new Director for the Alcohol and Drug Service to advise Government and ensure proper oversight of the substance use strategy.

9) Substance misuse should be a specific responsibility under the remit of the Assistant Minister delegated to Mental Health.

Criminal Justice Policy

The Draft Crime (Prejudice and Public Disorder) (Jersey) Law 201- proposes the introduction of fines up to £200 for the possession of controlled drugs:

"It is hoped that this will resolve a difficult issue where a person persistently offends at a low level, where the individual incidents are not in themselves serious enough to be passed to the Magistrate's Court. In these cases, a Centenier does not [currently] have the option of imposing a fine, and so lacks a key sanction which might serve to modify the offending behaviour." [3]

10) The public should be encouraged to contribute to the new Crime Law consultation and voice their opinion to States Members on "modifying the behaviour of persistent offenders" of cannabis possession by way of fixed penalties at Parish Hall Enquiries.


Proposals for Industry

Regulatory Authority

The governance of the cannabis industry in Jersey is currently distributed across a number of Ministerial portfolios, including those of the Departments of Health and Social Services, Economic Development and the Environment.

11) The Government should develop the newly established Jersey Cannabis Agency into a centralised regulatory authority to co-ordinate and provide oversight of the emerging cannabis industry in Jersey.

Transparency & Communication

At present, there is little in the way of information available in the public domain about the Island's cannabis industry – see Cannabis and Government Policy.

12) In order to inform the public and nurture Jersey's embryonic cannabis industry, the Government should be transparent and proactive in the communication of developments.


Proposals for the Environment

Regenerative Agriculture

As one of the fastest-growing biomass crops in the world, cannabis farming has great potential environmental benefits for the Island if practised regeneratively:

"Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil. Practices include, recycling as much farm waste as possible, and adding composted material from sources outside the farm." [4]

13) The Government of Jersey should initiate research into the potential of regenerative cannabis farming to improve our environment and offset our carbon emissions in the development of policy relating to P.27/2019 Climate change emergency.

Building with Hempcrete

The woody core of the stem of the hemp plant can be mixed with lime and water to make hempcrete – a non load bearing building material that is "fireproof, transmits humidity, resists mold, and has excellent acoustic performance." Hempcrete is also carbon negative – the lime absorbing carbon dioxide from the air as it sets.

14) The use of hempcrete in the Island should be investigated for its potential as a carbon negative alternative to concrete in the construction trade.


The Pathway to Regulation

Adherance to UN Conventions

Jersey has ratified the three United Nations Conventions on Drugs, which complicates the legalisation of cannabis without being in contravention of the conventions. However, the decriminalisation of cannabis is possible as this can be undertaken without a change of the law, instead applying a change in the application of the law – as in The Netherlands, Portugal, etc.

UN Advocates Decriminalisation

In November 2018, the United Nations Chief Executives Board (CEB), representing 31 agencies, "adopted a common position on drug policy that endorses decriminalisation of possession and use" [5, 6]. The following March, the United Nations System Coordination Task Team issued a report that "represents a clear rejection of drug policies based on criminalisation, punishment and harsh enforcement, instead endorsing evidence based policy rooted in public health, sustainable development, and respect for human rights" [7, 8].

Policy Evolution

The Parish Centeniers of the Honorary Police are the Island's Prosecuting Officers who, under the Office of the Attorney General, are "the only officers entitled to charge and bail offenders" at Parish Hall Enquiries.

The proposed Draft Crime (Prejudice and Public Disorder) (Jersey) Law 201- follows a series of Attorney General Directives relating to Parish Hall Enquiries that have each in turn reduced the penalty for the possession of drugs:

  1. Attorney General Directive 1/98
  2. Attorney General Directive 1/2015
  3. Attorney General Directive 1/2019

15) Instead of issuing written cautions or fines to sanction the simple possession of cannabis, the Island's Centeniers should consider taking "no further action" under Article 20 of the Conduct of Parish Hall Enquiries.

The approach to the policing of drug possession in Jersey is outside of the remit of the Minister for Home Affairs:

"[Drug related crime enforcement] is really an operational part of policing work and not something that I have any remit to dictate to the police force." [9]

16) The Chief of the States of Jersey Police should consider whether it is practical and in the public interest to continue to target those in possession of cannabis – following the approach taken by Durham, Dorset and other police forces in the UK.

If either the Parish Centeniers or the States of Jersey Police where to relax their policies as suggested above and treated cannabis use as a health issue rather than a crime, Jersey would effectively have de facto decriminalisation.

Public Consultation

The subject of cannabis is complex and has passionate proponents on all sides of the issue:

  1. Legalise It - Jersey
  2. Legalising cannabis would be 'crazy' says charity head
  3. A Model Multi-Agency, Medicinal Cannabis Policy
  4. Recreational cannabis tax ‘could benefit the economy’
  5. Chief Minister: Cannabis café culture not right for Jersey
  6. Did you take drugs? - Jersey's ministers respond to drug survey
  7. Deputy argues for rethink about legalising cannabis
  8. Former addict calls for compassion towards Islanders hooked on drugs
  9. End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey

By removing the penalties for possession, Islanders who use cannabis will feel free to participate and contribute to public consultations on the subject without the stigma of identification or fear of prosecution.

In order to formulate the most appropriate cannabis strategy for Jersey, it is critical that all our voices be heard.

17) An Islandwide public consultation on the wider subject of cannabis should be instigated by the Government of Jersey to direct policy – which must include considerations to prepare us for future regulation in the Island.

Inter-island Co-operation

Our fellow Crown dependencies are facing the same issues in relation to cannabis as we are in Jersey, with the various Islands undertaking their own reviews and consultations to direct the formation of policy.

18) Jersey should consider working with Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and the Isle of Man to pool resources and define a collective approach to cannabis across the Crown dependencies.


References

  1. [1] "States of Jersey Official Report, Tuesday 6th November 2018 - Medicinal Cannabis: right to prescribe by medical professionals (P.113/2018)", States of Jersey, 2018, p.302.
  2. [2] "Drug service now without a director", Jersey Evening Post, 02/02/17.
  3. [3] "Crime (Prejudice and Public Disorder) Law Consultation – Parish Hall Enquiry Fines", Government of Jersey, 2019, p.30.
  4. [4] "Regenerative Agriculture", Wikipedia.
  5. [5] "Key UN board endorses reform", Transform Drug Policy Foundation, 11/03/19.
  6. [6] "Summary of deliberations", United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, 18/01/19.
  7. [7] "Major UN report condemns punitive drugs policies", Transform Drug Policy Foundation, 14/03/19.
  8. [8] "What we have learned over the last ten years: A summary of knowledge acquired and produced by the UN system on drug-related matters", United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2019.
  9. [9] "Education and Home Affairs Scrutiny Panel Quarterly Meeting, Monday 19th December 2016", States of Jersey, 19/12/2016.