THE Island’s burgeoning medicinal cannabis industry has brought up to £60m investment into Jersey since 2016, according to the Economic Development Minister.
The figures were shared by Deputy Kirsten Morel as he was questioned on the sector at a Scrutiny hearing chaired by Deputy Moz Scott.
‘I can promise you that as a government we have not spent anything close to £50m to £60m on developing this, yet we’ve had that inward investment, so the benefit to the Island is already clearly a positive,’ Deputy Morel said.
The minister went on to explain that this investment had largely been in the form of construction of cannabis farms, adding: ‘Because we have a high regulatory bar, it is not possible to create a cannabis farm without spending millions of pounds.’
The first licence for the commercial cultivation of medicinal cannabis was issued in January 2021, in a move aimed at putting the Island at the forefront of the emerging European medicinal cannabis market.
However, last year, a report by a previous Scrutiny panel claimed that Jersey’s opportunity to cash in on the $600m-strong industry opportunity was being put at risk by ‘weak’ regulation.
It also suggested that there was a lack of clear ministerial accountability, planning rules and adequate fees being applied to businesses.
Yesterday’s meeting of the Economic and International Affairs Scrutiny Panel heard that a first draft of a ‘strategic development plan’ for the industry would be published at the end of this month. It will focus on the ‘development of Jersey’s own detailed and specific regulations for the cannabis industry’, and will also include a risk assessment.
The minister argued that strong regulation of the medical cannabis industry would give the Island a competitive advantage.
‘Jersey’s reputation is pinned to the mast of high regulation and high quality, that’s the only way this will work in Jersey. That’s what attracted people here already,’ he said.
Deputy Scott said that her panel were ‘encouraged’ by the updates on plans for the sector, adding that they will be ‘following proposed regulatory developments closely’.