THE number of medicinal cannabis companies with licences in the Island has more than doubled, although the Economic Development Minister has played down any expectations that the fledgling industry could be the ‘saviour of Jersey’s economy’.
Senator Lyndon Farnham admitted that his department remained unsure what the industry could generate for the Island’s economy but said it would provide a ‘useful source of income’.
Government officials confirmed yesterday that the number of licences had risen from two to five, during an Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel hearing.
Daniel Houseago, group director for the economy and partnerships, in the Growth, Housing and Environment Department, said a Portuguese company ‘have ambitions for a 25-year business plan’ and wanted to make ‘long-term investment in the Island’.
Responding to a query from panel chair Deputy David Johnson, Senator Farnham said: ‘I have never said this is going to be the saviour of Jersey’s economy, but if it is done properly this industry can provide some useful income to the Treasury.’
He added: ‘We are not sure what that income is going to be and we have been clear about that.’
He confirmed that some facilities in Jersey had started to grow medicinal cannabis in preparation for export.
The uncertain future of the Island’s aircraft registry was also raised at the hearing. Assistant Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel admitted that it was ‘currently not profitable’ and added he had set a March 2023 deadline ‘to decide whether this is the appropriate project to maintain’.
Asked whether he saw a future for the registry, Deputy Morel said: ‘I see the possibility of a future for it.’
And when pressed by Deputy Luce on whether he was ‘surprised’ the registry had been allowed to continue for so long, when it had ‘probably cost the government seven figures’, Deputy Morel responded: ‘Surprised is not the right word… I think it is something which could still deliver for the Island but it has not been guided in the way that perhaps would make it most effective.’
Deputy Morel did say he had been surprised at the lack of services to support those with gambling addictions in Jersey, compared to the help that was available for Islanders with drug and alcohol addictions, when the topic of gambling was raised.
Meanwhile, Senator Farnham said there was ‘no quick fix’ for the cost of living crisis which, the minister said, had been created by a ‘perfect storm’ of Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine impacting the global energy market.
A ministerial group on inflation had met twice recently, he said, and officials would be bringing back proposals for targeted support soon.
Looking ahead to the tourism season, Senator Farnham said that ‘bookings for the high summer months are looking very strong’ but were ‘still a little bit patchy at the moment’, which he said was due to bad weather hampering the usual long weekend trips to Jersey.