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Jersey to Debate Cannabis Decriminalisation, CBD Final Authorisations Not Due Until 2025, & Ireland to Get First Medical Cannabis Cultivation Facility

Jersey to debate adult-use cannabis decriminalisation 

A proposal to decriminalise the possession and adult-use of cannabis on the Island of Jersey, a British Crown Dependency, has been put forward by Reform Jersey politician, Tom Coles.

Jersey has rapidly become a haven for British cannabis entrepreneurs, and has raked in up to £60m in investment from medical cannabis businesses since 2016, according to the Channel Islands Economic Development Minister.

The island, which is viewed by many prominent UK medical cannabis operators as a vital ‘case study’ showcasing how potentially lucrative the industry could be if implemented on the mainland, could now decriminalise cannabis next year.

Mr Cole’s proposals would set a limit for the amount of cannabis for personal consumption a citizen can possess without fear of criminal penalty, designate legal consumption zones, and lay out driving restrictions.

The States Assembly is now set to debate the proposals at the end of June, and requests have been made that the legislation be brought forward by November 2025, Jersey Evening Post reported.

In February this year, Jersey lawmakers passed new legislation described as a ‘step towards’ the decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of cannabis and other Class B and C drugs.

In a vote on Wednesday, February 7, the Jersey States Assembly unanimously approved an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Law that allows for those caught for repeat possession of small amounts of Class B and C drugs to avoid criminal prosecution.

Prior guidance stated that first-time offenders caught with up to 15g of cannabis should receive a written caution rather than being processed through the criminal justice system.

The new legislation saw these guidelines written into law for the first time and expanded to include repeat offenders, who will now be liable for a level one fine of £200.

Despite this move, Mr Coles suggested that it has created a ‘two-tier system’, which continues to see those caught with small amounts of cannabis being detained despite medical cannabis now being widely prescribed.

“An individual, with a prescription for medicinal cannabis can carry their cannabis on their person,” Mr Coles told the BBC.

“The police can stop and search the individual and remove their prescribed cannabis until such time as proof of their prescription is perhaps not the best use of police resources.”

“It is not the intention of this proposition to bind the hands of the government but to guide them in what is better for our society.”

The move comes after a backlash against the growth of medical cannabis prescriptions on the island last month.

According to the results of an audit into the small island’s medical cannabis industry, which examined monthly returns from pharmacists for a nine-month period in 2022, around 6.08% of the working-age population is now being prescribed medical cannabis.

This is significantly more than the 0.05% of the population currently being prescribed in England.

Of the 4,139 patients issued 18,990 prescriptions during the period, around 30 reportedly received prescriptions from two or more prescribers.

Novel Foods CBD approvals not expected until 2025

The UK’s CBD industry will have to wait for at least another year before any products are fully authorised by regulators.

Earlier this month, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) responded to a letter submitted by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), raising concerns over continued delays to the process and the ongoing impact this was having on the UK’s CBD industry.

According to The Grocer, the FSA’s CEO Emily Miles, stuck with the organisation’s long-standing response to accusations of delays, pointing out that in many cases, the ‘data provided by applicants has been poor or its relevance to the application is unclear’.

Furthermore, she said that the unique process the FSA has taken regarding CBD approvals had ‘created greater resource demands’ on the FSA.

In light of this, following an announcement from earlier this month that the first two ‘positive safety assessments’ in the CBD Novel Foods process had now been issued to Channelle McCoy and Cannaray, Ms. Miles said she was hopeful that the first products would receive full authorisation in the next 12 months.

However, she stipulated that this depended on the Home Office confirming the ‘legal status of CBD products containing trace amounts of THC’.

Now that the first products have made it through the risk assessment process, they’ll move onto the risk management phase.

According to the FSA, this will consider ‘other legitimate factors in its use like labelling considerations; and a public consultation prior to sending advice to ministers across the nations on whether to authorise.’

“Subject to Ministers’ approval, the authorisation is written into legislation and laid as statutory instruments which are subject to Ministerial scrutiny before the authorisation comes into force.”

However, according to the ACI’s CEO Steve Moore, this will further hinder the FSA’s ability to meet its 2025 deadline and did not absolve the FSA of failing to ‘comply with the relevant law, which stipulates strict time limits for the implementation of Novel Foods regulation’.

Meanwhile, the FSA are set to announce plans for international cooperation on approving lab-grown meat, CBD products, and insect foods next month.

The regulatory body has reportedly already engaged in talks with countries like Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. These discussions aim to establish a ‘sliding scale’ of international agreements for product approvals, leveraging other countries’ track records to expedite the approval process.

Despite this push for global collaboration, the European food regulator, EFSA, is notably absent from these efforts after putting a halt on all CBD applications in 2022. This omission raises questions about the role of EU approvals in the new framework, suggesting trade between the EU and UK may be off the table.

The FSA is also considering removing certain regulatory requirements that contribute to a backlog of 470 applications awaiting approval, including the need for MPs to pass a statutory instrument and the 10-year re-approval process for some food additives.

Ireland’s first medical cannabis production facility

Production on the island of Ireland’s first medical cannabis production facility is now due to start early next year.

Belfast-based Growth Industries Pharma has now had planning permission granted to convert an industrial unit into a cultivation facility in County Antrim.

Antrim and Newtrownabbey Borough Council granted permission on the grounds that the facility will install odour controls and strict security measures to ensure the minimum impact on its surrounding neighbours.

According to Belfast Live, the Northern Irish medical cannabis market now accounts for around 20% of all the UK’s prescriptions.

Furthermore, the company has previously reported plans to capitalise on the Windsor Framework agreement, which should allow it to export into Europe, unlike its mainland counterparts.

The company’s Director of Strategy and Communications, Peter Reynolds, told the Belfast Telegraph last October: “There are two other facilities in Great Britain, but clearly any facility that opens in Northern Ireland is in that unique position, especially with the Republic’s medical cannabis access programme. We hope, as well, to be able to export to the European Union, that we’d be in a unique position to do that.”

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