By Roland Sebestyén
A judge told a woman before her sentencing that the problem of people bringing cannabis with them to the Isle of Man “is getting out of hand” on the island.
According to the BBC, Deemster Graeme Cook claimed that importing cannabis has been a “major issue” over the past year and a half.
While sentencing the woman – for importing £1000 worth of cannabis and possession with intent to supply – for a 16-month jail term, which will be suspended for two years, the judge said: “The amount of cannabis may be small but it’s worth a lot of money.
“Over the past 18 months, the importation of cannabis is getting out of hand.”
The Isle of Man has been in the news for a while as in 2019 it held a consultation about medical cannabis, in which more than 95% of the respondents said they would support a regulated medicinal cannabis market on the island.
David Ashford, the Minister for Health and Social Care, a well-known cannabis advocate, told Canex: “Consultations are used to inform government policy, but it does not mean that approach will automatically change.
“Since the results of the consultation, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been working on internal policy development and looking at what legal changes would be required.
“We have also been engaging with practitioners for their views and needs. There would be no point changing the law to allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed if no practitioner is willing to or comfortable enough to prescribe it.”
He added that though if there were relaxation in the drug policy, medicinal cannabis would still be required to be a prescribed product.
As a result, the Isle of Man government has passed legislation in January that would allow licenced businesses to cultivate, sell and export medical cannabis globally.
The government estimated £3 million in profits in a year, while the cannabis market could create up to 250 jobs on the island.
Mark Rutherford from the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) said: “The Island has a track record as an early adopter of new sectors.
“Over the course of the past 20 years acting as the regulator for the Island’s eGaming sector, the GSC has developed expertise in keeping the industry crime free, protecting consumers and providing transparency, and this experience is complementary to the skills that will be required for this new and emerging sector.
“This is an exciting opportunity, and we have a sophisticated framework for supervising gambling which can be easily adapted to regulate the cultivation and processing of cannabis.
“We recognise there is huge potential for this new sector to create real positive economic benefit so we need to ensure we treat the new cannabis sector like we have treated the gambling sector: that license stakeholders that are competent, credible and crime free from the outset.”