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PODCAST: P&R VP backs HSC on cannabis review

PODCAST: P&R VP backs HSC on cannabis review

Thursday 19 May 2022

PODCAST: P&R VP backs HSC on cannabis review

Thursday 19 May 2022


The Vice President of the Policy & Resources Committee has indicated that she will support a proposal to review the legal status of cannabis when it is debated by the States next month.

Deputy Heidi Soulsby, a former President of the Committee for Health & Social Care, told the latest Express podcast that she agrees with a majority of the members of the current Committee that whether to decriminalise or legalise cannabis "is a debate we need to have".

"I do think it is absolutely worth a debate and worth considering. I think we should be doing that work," she said.

"I can see decriminalising it possibly – that might be the way to go.

"But I want that work to be done so that we can actually evaluate the evidence and see whether this makes sense for Guernsey now."

The full interview with Deputy Soulsby can be accessed HERE.

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Pictured: A majority of the five politicians who sit on the Committee for Health & Social Care favour 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 next month.

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.

Most but not all members of the Committee for Health & Social Care want to start the review of cannabis. But all voting members of the Committee for Home Affairs have said that they oppose starting a review. 

"We’re asking the States whether we should be scoping this. That’s where we are," said Deputy Soulsby, pictured top. 

"We’re not saying at this stage: do you agree that we should be debating whether it should be decriminalised or legalised? It’s saying: should we start going down that road. I think there is an argument for that."

Deputy_Al_Brouard_and_Deputy_Rob_Prow_drugs_laws_review_cannabis_cocaine.jpg

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 wants to start a review of whether cannabis should be legalised.

Deputy Soulsby acknowledged that the legal status of cannabis is "a very polarising issue".

"A lot of people will think absolutely not and other people – a vociferous number – think we should," she said.

"For me, I want to know that we’ve thought about this in the context of Guernsey."

It is understood that the Policy & Resources Committee itself will not be able to present a united position to the States' Assembly at next month's debate with some members of the Committee believing that now is not the right time to start a review of the legal status of cannabis. 

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Pictured: Meetings have taken place recently between politicians, regulators and businesses over significant challenges which have hit the island's nascent medicinal cannabis industry.  

In its policy letter on the Government Work 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."

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