More than half of election candidates 'would support a progressive approach to cannabis' in Jersey

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MORE than half of this year’s candidates are likely to support a ‘progressive’ approach to cannabis if elected, a campaign group has claimed.

Simon Harrison, co-ordinator for End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey, said that 14 of the candidates they have met so far are supportive of either decriminalising or legalising cannabis, and 37 are receptive to a ‘progressive’ approach – meaning they or their party would potentially support some type of reform to current laws.

The group, which formed in May 2020, has not yet met all 93 candidates.

End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey has set out five key recommendations which it would like to see from the next Assembly, including prioritising a long-awaited new Drug and Alcohol Strategy which did not come before the current States.

The group is also calling for the decriminalisation of possession of cannabis and to investigate the legalisation of cannabis.

Decriminalisation would mean the drug is still prohibited by law, but an individual cannot be prosecuted or criminalised for carrying a certain amount. Whereas legalisation means that the once-banned substance becomes permissible by law and carries no penalty.

Mr Harrison said: ‘Reform Jersey are supportive, while based on our talks with other candidates, or based on their party’s ideas, we believe another 37 of them are receptive to a progressive approach which means that they or their party responded positively to recommendations for reform and will likely support a progressive approach to cannabis if elected.

‘Overall, we are really happy with how it has gone so far. We have not had any serious resentment at all yet. Obviously, there are some candidates who have some concern about the approach and how we would actually go about it and some have voiced wanting to know more information as we only had an hour with them.’

He said the group was scheduled to meet the Progress Party and three other candidates next week.

The group also recommends conducting a review of medicinal cannabis use, estimating that there are around 3,000 private medicinal cannabis patients in the Island – many of whom struggle to afford the cost of their medication.

He added that a review would allow States Members to understand issues faced by patients.

End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey would also like to see a ‘continued nurture’ of the cannabis cultivation industry, which has begun to establish itself in the Island.

Mr Harrison said the group felt ‘positive’ about candidates’ attitudes towards the suggestions, which gives them confidence that changes to legislation could be made if they were brought before the next Assembly.

‘Ideally they would all be supportive and originally we wanted to get it in all of their manifestos but most of them have been written now and a lot of them have only done 500-word ones, rather than the long-form ones they did in previous years.

‘There also seems a slight reticence to include it in their manifestos as the majority of the voting public are of a certain age which would lend them to not being supportive of the idea,’ he said.

Senator Sam Mézec, leader of Reform Jersey, said the party was supportive of some of the recommendations made by the group.

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