Deputies will vote next month on whether to take the first steps towards a States' debate on whether cannabis should be legalised or decriminalised - but only if they first agree to drop other work.
The Policy & Resources Committee is offering to include a "review of the legal status of cannabis" in the Government Work Plan from 2023 if the States shelve work they agreed in January to change public health laws and the powers of the Medical Officer of Health.
The Government Work Plan, which was published this morning, asks deputies to make a straight choice between reviewing public health laws and reviewing cannabis laws when they meet to debate the Plan on 14 or 28 June.
In February, Express reported that two States' committees - Health & Social Care and Home Affairs - were consulting the public as part of a review of drugs laws. But, at that stage, they said that legalising or decriminalising illegal drugs - including cannabis - was firmly off the agenda.
Pictured: Deputy Al Brouard's (left) Committee for Health & Social Care and Deputy Rob Prow's Committee for Home Affairs have been reviewing whether to adopt more of a health-based approach to drug abuse, but the former Committee wants to start a review of whether cannabis should be legalised.
However, a majority of the five politicians who sit on the Committee for Health & Social Care favoured a full review of the legal status of cannabis, and they have now decided to use their votes on the Committee to attempt to insert it into the Government Work Plan.
In its policy letter on the Plan, the Policy & Resources Committee states: "The review of the legal status of cannabis in this political term remains an objective of the Committee for Health & Social Care, notwithstanding it recognises that this would require detailed consideration of various political, reputational and commercial aspects and comprehensive engagement with the community.
"Subject to other demands associated with any potential future waves of covid-19, the Committee for Health & Social Care has indicated, by a majority, that it would utilise its limited capacity within public health services to scope the project in quarter 1 of 2023.
"The Committee would then bring forward [in the 2023 Government Work Plan] its recommendation on whether to proceed, or not, together with the terms of reference and timeframe for the review, outlining its objectives and benefits, and its resourcing requirements, for consideration against competing areas of policy by the States."
Pictured: Deputies will be asked next month whether they want to deprioritise other work to start work on what could lead to a States' debate - possibly in this political term - on the legal status of cannabis.
The health and social care section of the Government Work Plan also outlines that there will be a States' debate later this year on the future of primary care - in particular the affordability of visiting a GP.
The Plan states that the Committee for Health & Social Care and the Committee for Employment & Social Security have been considering "the accessibility and affordability of primary care, its interrelationship with the wider health and care system and the effect of the current arrangements on health outcomes".
"This work seeks to understand and address current barriers to care, while safeguarding the current strengths of the system – high quality care, minimal waiting times and strong continuity of care – with the aim of supporting islanders to access the care they need, when they need it, at rates they can afford.
"This is one aspect of a programme of work to reduce the rate over time at which health and care costs are rising and improve islanders’ experiences of health care through increased integration."
Pictured: The Committee for Health & Social Care and the Committee for Employment & Social Security are working on proposals relating to primary care costs.
"Proposals are due to be presented to the States later this year seeking to address the most immediate political concern - affordability - while laying the groundwork for wider change in the future.
"The proposals will consider the reallocation of existing States’ expenditure to achieve better value through targeting funds more effectively. It is envisaged that any changes, if approved, could be phased for introduction over the rest of this political term [until June 2025]."
The plan also states that the Committees will use their policy letter later in the year "to introduce potential insurance-based solutions" to primary care costs "with the view that, if so directed by the States, more detailed modelling and costings would be developed as a follow-on action".
Drugs laws under review - but legalisation is off the agenda
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