The Bailiwick of Guernsey, located in the Channel Islands near the French coast, is a self-governing island referred to as a “British Crown Dependency.” Its population sits at 67,642, as of data collected by the United Nations in July 2023, which is the combined number between islands of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, and Herm.
Recent reports show that with Guernsey’s three private cannabis clinics, medical cannabis was prescribed an estimated 13,200 times within the past year. More specifically, this number pertains to the number of prescriptions, but not necessarily the number of patients.
According to Deputy Marc Leadbeater, who is a member of the Committee for Health & Social Care as well as medical cannabis company director for House of Green, recently told BBC that the island’s industry needed “massive investment.”
However, he added that the delay in progress is due to people not genuinely in support of the industry. “The problem is a lot of the previous investors in medicinal cannabis are wary about investing in that area at the moment due to developments with cannabis legislation across the globe,” Leadbeater said. “I think we need new people that value the cannabis industry. They have no idea how much money can be made for Guernsey and when I tell them they don’t believe me.”
Licensed cultivation has been permitted since July 2021 in Guernsey. At the time, The Channel Islands Cannabis Industry Association called it a “significant milestone” that allows Guernsey to compete with medical cannabis industries on the Island of Jersey (located southeast of Guernsey) and the Isle of Man (which sits between the U.K. and Northern Island).
Currently only two cannabis companies—4C Labs and Pura Health—are allowed to “serve patients top quality imported products.” BBC reported that 4C Labs has a cultivation license but still plans to import cannabis from Canada.
Just last week, the topic of Guernsey becoming a “medical cannabis hub” was discussed by BBC, predicting that it could lead to 100 industry jobs. According to 4C Labs chief revenue officer, James Smith, Guernsey is the perfect place for the “hub.” “We can bring in bulk material, we can transform it into other goods and we can ship those goods into Germany, soon France, soon Poland, soon Ukraine,” Smith said. “These are all markets that over the next 12 to 24 months are going to expand and grow. These are not just gardening jobs or packing jobs, this is work that requires scientific degrees and working in a laboratory.”
The other licensed cannabis company, Pura Health, hopes to improve medical cannabis accessibility for people who live on Guernsey. “We’re really pleased and excited for our patients that this will be a high quality product that they will automatically see the benefits from,” said Pura Health director Tina Bolding.
One concerning problem however is that some people are selling medical cannabis on the black market. “Patients are going in, giving their symptoms and, having been prescribed and over-prescribed, they are then dealing it effectively on the streets. It’s a growing problem especially for our young people,” said Guernsey Health Improvement Commission Andrea Nightingale. She added that if medical cannabis was used as intended, it would “certainly [help] the people with the symptoms that they have.”
Nightingale explained that there has been an increase in cannabis psychosis cases since 2019, shortly after medical cannabis was legalized in Guernsey. “We have reports that because it is expensive, younger adults are using their rent money, which means that they’re getting into trouble with landlords. It’s [a] real concern to us,” she explained. To follow-up with this concern, the Health Improvement Commission is writing a report “looking at various options and working with the industry to see what we can do and see how we can get a better situation,” Nightingale continued.
The Isle of Man planned a “game-changing” $136 million cannabis facility back in February 2022. More recent reports show that the island is planning to “diversify our economy,” said Isle of Man Minister for Enterprise, Tim Johnston. Medical cannabis is just one of many industries that the Isle of Man plans to develop. “We recognise we’ve got an older population. We’re keen to see that change,” Johnston explained.
The Isle of Man is home to a population of 91,840 as of 2023, but Johnston added that officials want to see the population increase to more than 100,000 within the next 15 years. “As a high-value, low-volume manufacturing business it fits well into what we need to do on the island,” Johnston said. “We need to make sure when things are exported they are [of] high value.”
On the other hand the island of Jersey (population 102,785 as of 2023), which is also a British Crown Dependency alongside Guernsey, recently shut down its only licensed hemp farm in June 2023 due to questions of legality. “We’ve got to really take a step back and consider the position we find ourselves in,” said Jersey Hemp farm owner Davis Ryan. “It’s very frustrating, pretty sad, the impact on us has been devastating.”