By Roland Sebestyén
The sentencing bands have been updated for the first time in 40 years to punish cannabis traffickers and dealers with longer jail time on the Isle of Man.
The BBC reports that as there was a sharp rise in cannabis offences on the island between 2011 and 2020, officials decided to introduce updated sentences on the island as the previous sentencing guidelines were “clearly out of date.”
It comes after 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.”
While sentencing one woman – for importing £1000 worth of cannabis and possession with intent to supply – to 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.”
Arrests for serious Class B drug offences trebled and prosecutions doubled over the last ten years on the island, with the number of juveniles involved rising from 2% to 20%, the court heard.
The new sentencing bands based on weight have been introduced, including a starting eight-year tariff for importing more than 30kg of the drug.
The new sentencing bands are:
- Up to 2kg – one to three years
- Between 2kg and 5kg – two to five years
- Between 5kg and 10kg – four to seven years
- Between 10kg and 30kg – six to nine years
- In excess of 30kg – eight to 14 years
According to the BBC, the new sentences are higher than England and Wales but lower than the Channel Islands.
The discussion about cannabis and medical cannabis regulation is very active on the Isle of Man.
In 2019, the isle held a consultation about medical cannabis, in which more than 95% of 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 medical cannabis reform 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 relaxation in the drug policy would still mean that medicinal cannabis would still be required to be a prescribed product.
As a result, the Isle of Man government 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.