Medicinal-cannabis growers will need environmental impact assessment for licence

ANY company wanting to cultivate cannabis for medicinal use in Jersey will have to undergo a very rigorous site inspection, a Scrutiny panel has been assured.

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Checks will be carried out by local inspectors and staff from the UK Home Office, which has greater experience of dealing with cannabis farms, and each prospective firm will also need to carry out an environmental impact assessment of its activities before being granted a licence.

Health Minister Richard Renouf and Jersey’s chief pharmacist, Paul McCabe, made the comments while speaking at a hearing of the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel to discuss the cultivation of cannabis in the Island, and the rules that growers will have to observe.

It is estimated that the medicinal-cannabis industry could generate around £300 million per year for Jersey’s economy.

Several companies showed an early interest in developing the lucrative crop and the first licences were granted last year.

All growers will be closely monitored, Mr McCabe told the panel.

He added: ‘Nobody will be allowed to grow cannabis in Jersey without an EIA.

‘It is not something that is required in the UK but we thought it could be useful in Jersey.’

Deputy Renouf explained that in the UK cannabis plants could be cultivated far away from residential areas, but that Jersey’s smaller size did not allow this. He said that tighter regulations over noise, smell and transport were needed as a result.

The two firms which have been granted licences so far both submitted EIAs, Mr McCabe confirmed.

However, in other ways Jersey would remain in step with UK regulations. Deputy Renouf said: ‘We need to comply with the UK because they are signatories to the UN convention on cannabis on our behalf.’

Islanders who find themselves living near a proposed cannabis plant will not necessarily be allowed to raise objections and there are no plans to consult them for their views, he told the panel.

They will be able to comment on planning applications in the usual way, but if existing greenhouses or other buildings were being used, he explained that there would be no opportunity for public consultation.

‘There is no option for that within our drugs laws,’ he said.

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