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No legalisation of cannabis, says minister, despite 2,300 petitioners

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THE government has no intention of legalising cannabis – despite a petition calling for legalisation gathering over 2,300 signatures.

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Health Minister Richard Renouf said that such a move would be opposed, in line with guidance from the World Health Organisation.

The petition calls for the class B drug to be legalised to help Islanders suffering with health conditions and also to generate tax for the economy. The author of the petition claims the majority of Islanders use cannabis daily and it is ‘not right’ for it to continue to be illegal.

Petitions which gain more than 1,000 signatures trigger a ministerial response. If they gather more than 5,000 they will be considered for a States debate.

Responding to the petition, Deputy Renouf said the use of medicinal cannabis was legal when prescribed by a medical practitioner, but the government had no plans for a full legalisation of cannabis.

Deputy Renouf said: ‘The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence do not recommend the use of cannabinoids for chronic pain. Cannabis use by adolescents has been linked to an increased prevalence of mental illness, including depression, anxiety and psychosis; impaired neurological development and cognitive decline; and diminished school performance and lifetime achievement.

‘Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia in young people. Early cannabis use brings greater risk for schizophrenia than use before the age of 18 years. Cannabis use may impact upon the fertility of both women and men.’

The author of the petition claims that the recent police anti-drugs campaign – codenamed Operation Shark – has caused mentally unstable people to turn to harder drugs.

Last year, cultivating medicinal cannabis and prescribing it was legalised under licence. However, Island doctors have so far chosen not to prescribe it for medical purposes in line with NICE guidelines.

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