THE government should consider making medicinal cannabis freely available as part of the Island’s health service, a States Member has said.
Deputy Lyndon Farnham also believes that a flourishing medicinal-cannabis industry would have a clear economic benefit to the Island and hopes the government will continue the work he started while Economic Development Minister which aimed to make Jersey a leading jurisdiction in the field.
Speaking at a London conference in 2019, Deputy Farnham announced his intention to make Jersey a ‘centre of excellence’ in medicinal-cannabis production.
He subsequently brought forward legislation and introduced licensing schemes to facilitate cannabis- and hemp-growing in Jersey.
The local industry has grown rapidly over the past couple of years, with a small number of medicinal-cannabis growers and various clinics which privately prescribe the drug to patients.
Deputy Farnham’s recent comments come after a planning application was launched by Green View Ltd to build the necessary facilities to grow the crop at La Verte Vue farm in St Mary.
And the St Mary, St Peter and St Ouen Deputy hopes that cannabis can soon be offered to patients in a similar way to other prescription medications.
‘The government should seriously be considering making medicinal cannabis freely available as part of the health service. I don’t see medicinal cannabis being different from any other medicines which require strong legislation,’ he said.
‘Currently, medicinal cannabis is prescribed privately and its availability to support Islanders is a big challenge due to its cost, which makes it out of reach for many,’ he added.
Deputy Farnham said he would encourage Health Minister Karen Wilson to look at the benefits of making medicinal cannabis more readily available for those who need it.
He added that he would be happy to assist his colleagues if they were to consider such a move.
‘The other side of medicinal cannabis is the production of cannabis derivatives for export to pharmaceutical businesses globally and that is a key area,’ he said. ‘I understand that is progressing and the current government has good foundations to build on. There is definitely the opportunity for great economic benefit through tax revenue, career opportunities, productive use of land and it could also encourage people studying in related fields to come back to the Island.’
However, Deputy Farnham does not believe there will be a significant rise in the number of medicinal-cannabis producers in the Island.
‘We have to remember it requires significant investment. We have been international leaders with the way we have been licensing and hopefully we will continue to see a low, sustainable number of facilities producing high-quality medicinal cannabis,’ he said.
Last year, Simon Harrison, from campaign group End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey, said that if the Island wanted to be a centre of excellence in medicinal cannabis, it should consider building a cannabis clinic as part of the new hospital.
Deputy Farnham echoed those thoughts, adding: ‘I would hope any new hospital would embrace modern methods of medicine once we understand what the clear benefits to that medicine are.’