Jersey Hemp says it feels abandoned by ‘hypocritical’ government

Jersey Hemp Dave Ryan and Blair Jones , Co-Founders Picture: JON GUEGAN. (36871006)

JERSEY Hemp has criticised the government after it highlighted the need for “entrepreneurialism and innovation” within a new economic strategy, despite allegedly abandoning the company when it needed help.

The firm – once praised by the current Economic Development Minister as the “ideal” Island business – is currently engaged in a legal battle over a Home Office ruling that forced it to close earlier this year, after civil servants in Whitehall decided Jersey Hemp’s CBD products were illegal.

The case is being closely watched by Britain’s £690 million cannabidiol industry, as the outcome could have major ramifications for the sector.

Jersey Hemp director Craig Dempster has previously stated the company was hung out to dry by the UK and Jersey governments. He has now called out what he sees as the government’s hypocrisy in saying that it is championing sustainable new businesses, but doing the opposite.

He argued that they were being told their product was banned because it contained THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – even though the level had been proven to be within legal parameters – and that Jersey’s government had “deserted” them by enforcing the UK ruling.

The local firm, which has been granted a judicial review in the UK High Court of Justice to challenge the decision, has now criticised the government’s recently-published Delivery Framework for Sustainable Economic Development.

The document, which forms part of the Future Economy Programme, highlights the need for “entrepreneurialism and innovation”, as well as “sustainability” and identifying “diversified niche businesses” – including within the rural sector.

However, Mr Dempster argued that Jersey Hemp had been left to fight the Home Office on its own, despite previously being praised for having such qualities.

He also noted that the company had a lower carbon footprint than those in the medicinal cannabis sector, which had also received support from the government.

This, he explained, was because the latter requires more power to maintain artificial environment controls – such as temperature and humidity – to produce their products.

During the Bridging Island Plan debate last year, Deputy Kirsten Morel – now Economic Development Minister – described Jersey Hemp as “an incredible business”.

“Jersey Hemp, in so many ways, is the ideal Jersey business. It is bringing an ancient Jersey industry, hemp growing, back to life and into the 21st century. In doing so, it is diversifying our economy; it is innovating through research and the creation of new products and is bringing money to the Island,” he said at the time.

Mr Dempster said: “The government encouraged us to do what we were doing to the point where we were the poster boy for the industry.”

He continued: “Politicians used to bring people up [to the site] and showcase us as an innovative and forward thinking business.

“But when it came to it, the government didn’t offer us any support when we challenged the Home Office ruling – they deserted us.

“The consequences of their inaction have resulted in the demise of the business.”

In a statement, the government said: “This matter is subject to ongoing legal proceedings in the UK and Jersey. It is not appropriate for the government to make any comment on any ongoing litigation to which it is a party whether on the Island or elsewhere.”

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