By Roland Sebestyén
Guernsey’s Health and Social Care Committee has announced a controversial move that will mean medical cannabis patients will soon have to pay an extra fee for the import of the products.
Under the controversial new measure, patients on Guernsey who access their medical cannabis products through clinics in the UK will soon have to swallow a £25 import fee.
The Health and Social Care Committee of the island states that the fee is necessary to cover the costs of processing licence applications.
The introduction of the new system comes after the States of Guernsey gave a UK firm the very first licence to produce medical cannabis on the island.
A Guernsey patient, Gaz Barbe, who’s dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), told the BBC that the new fee will reduce the amount of medicine he can afford.
Guernsey and the Channel Islands are leading the way in Europe and are ahead of the UK when it comes to medical cannabis, experts claimed at the Jersey Farming Conference a few weeks ago.
But the introduction of an import fee could very well end that narrative if it makes medical cannabis unaffordable and inaccessible for those in need.
Anyways, according to reports from the island, GPs have issued more than 2,000 medical cannabis prescriptions since the medical use of the drug was approved in 2018.
Dr Charlotte Cocks, from local clinic Medicann Jersey, said: “In Jersey and Guernsey we are leading the way in Europe, and are certainly ahead of the UK as GPs are following a model from across many ponds in Canada, USA and Australia, who have been able to prescribe medical cannabis for many years.”
Meanwhile, there is also a debate around whether Guernsey should legalise recreational use in the near future.
This most recent call to action was put forward by Deputy Marc Leadbeater, following his resignation from the Committee for Home Affairs.
Mr Leadbeater has proposed a political petition on the issue, which if put forward by seven States members, would go before the States of Guernsey for consideration.