Deputy Neil Inder rejects claims that Jersey is more advanced than Guernsey in developing a medicinal cannabis industry and says “Jersey is all show – there’s no substance in the island".
But he accepts there have been times when the States of Guernsey have dragged their feet when they could have been more supportive of cannabis entrepreneurs.
Deputy Inder, the President of the Committee for Economic Development, told a public hearing of the Scrutiny Management Committee that the States’ response to the emergence of CBD (cannabidiol) business was a case in point.
“Our service to that industry was absolutely appalling,” he said. He compared the experience to “walking through treacle” and said it took “eight months with me stomping my feet" and “a couple of crabby e mails from me” to prompt a more proactive response from the States.
In July, two years after legalising the prescription of medicinal cannabis, the States signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK Home Office which allows businesses to apply for licences to grow medicinal cannabis in Guernsey.
Pictured: The Scrutiny Panel at the public hearing spent two hours asking questions of the Committee for Economic Development. Issues discussed included financial services, the cannabis industry, tourism and recovery from covid-19.
Deputy Inder also spoke of frustration that his Committee is required to work with other committees to allow cannabis-based industries to develop.
“When you peel back something like medicinal cannabis, it’s got nothing to do with the Committee for Economic Development,” he said. “Regulation is with the Committee for Health & Social Care; licensing is with the Committee for Home Affairs; greenhouses are with the Development & Planning Authority.”
The Chairman of Jersey's Cannabis Services Advisory Board said recently that Jersey had six months to finalise plans to be world leaders in the lucrative high-end cannabis industry before other jurisdictions caught up. And Paul Smith, Chief Executive of Guernsey-based firm The House of Green, said Guernsey was in a similar position.
Asked by Scrutiny Panel member Gill Morris whether Jersey was more advanced than Guernsey in this area, Deputy Inder replied: "Jersey is all show - there is no substance in the island. I think this is just a fact." He said Guernsey is "more measured".
Deputy Inder's comments revived memories of a speech made by Deputy Peter Ferbrache in May 2020 when, during a States' debate on Guernsey's handling of the covid-19 pandemic, he compared Guernsey with Jersey and said that people in Jersey with whom he spoke often described Jersey's government as "a bunch of bumbling idiots". It appeared to do Deputy Ferbrache no harm with Guernsey's voters: less than five months later, he was re-elected to the States, placing fifth out of 119 candidates with 11,142 votes, 45% of all votes cast.
Pictured: Like Deputy Neil Inder, Guernsey's senior-most politician, Deputy Peter Ferbrache, has occasionally teased Jersey for perceived shortcomings in the performance of its government.
Deputy Inder has consistently spoken in support of the legal cannabis industry as a useful new sector contributing to economic growth in the island.
“Diversification is never ever led by politicians. So when an opportunity turns up like [medicinal cannabis] you've got to grab it with both hands," he said. “There's going to be substantial investment in the sites themselves...research and development, science, construction - opportunities for economic development."
He spoke about the island providing the industry with appropriate regulation and said it would complement rather than detract from other sectors of the economy.
“People came to Guernsey because we were well regulated. That is the key selling point as I understand it. There is no reason that medicinal cannabis should have an effect on other areas of the economy at all."
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