Several companies have already shown an interest in developing the highly lucrative crop, and Economic Development hope that by moving quickly to get production under way Jersey could become a world leader in the emerging market of medicinal cannabis.
The decision to grant licences puts the Island ahead of the UK in an industry which Jersey Hemp science officer Chris Callaghan last year said could net £300 million a year for the economy. It is hoped that planting could begin within a few months, with the first crops harvested later this year.
Announcing the decision to the JEP, Economic Development Minister Lyndon Farnham said that a ‘window of opportunity’ now existed for Jersey to benefit from the high prices being paid for the crop, due to the current limited supply being available from well-regulated jurisdictions.
In 2017, hemp was grown in the Island for the first time in decades with growers at the Warwick Farm site recording a bumper harvest last year, where 35 tonnes of hemp seed was produced – enough to manufacture around 13,000 litres of hemp oil.
Senator Farnham said that Jersey is planning to move quickly with the aspiration of becoming a pioneer and global leader in the developing market.
He added, however, that the regulatory regime must be of the highest standard.
‘We are announcing this because a significant amount of preparation, planning and investment is required from private-sector companies entering the market,’ he said.
‘So, it’s important that the government makes its intentions clear publicly, so that businesses can start planning for this. There’s a window of opportunity globally as the world is becoming aware of the benefits and positive impacts that can be derived from the cultivation, extraction and manufacture of high-grade cannabinoids.
‘It is very important that we don’t waste any time and we would like Jersey to be one of the first places to do this and become a global leader.’
He added that Jersey’s history of tight regulation of its industries would appeal to companies interested in developing medicinal cannabis, which would also need to be subject to strict controls and monitoring.
‘Jersey has established a global reputation for high regulatory standards in its financial services and agriculture sectors and this is attractive because medicinal cannabis would need to very well regulated,’ he said.
‘There is significant financial potential for the States from the licences that would be issued and companies would likely to be subject to corporation tax at similar rate to financial services firms or retailers.
‘The government would also be interested in partnerships with the companies involved.’
The minister said that a number of companies have expressed interest in the Jersey market and jobs could be generated within the Island in cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, research and development and intellectual property.
He added that the move was part of his department’s drive to boost the Island’s rural economy through crop diversification.