Now don’t get too excited, we’re still only talking of cultivation for medicinal and industrial uses. But at this month’s Tynwald sitting, Douglas North MHK Ralph Peake is moving the motion approving the Misuse of Drugs (Cannabis) Regulations 2020. If approved by Tynwald, it will become possible in the Isle of Man to cultivate cannabis, to extract controlled substances from cannabis and to make products derived from cannabis,

The effects of this change are:

  • The process of growing cannabis and converting it into products that are useful for medicine comprises a number of discrete agricultural and industrial steps. Some participants in the regulated market will complete all of the steps but others may specialise in just one (for example, a farmer may cultivate hemp only for a specialist to purchase the hemp and extract the useful products from it using expensive machinery).

  • The regulations make it lawful for a person with a licence to cultivate, possess, produce, supply or offer to supply cannabis and cannabis derived products.

  • The licenses will be issued by the Gambling Supervision Commission which will charge licence fees to cover the cost of regulation. 

  • Furthermore, a capping arrangement will mean that large operations that intend to perform multiple steps in the processing of cannabis pay a maximum fee in any given twelve-month period. 

  • The projected costs for the first three years are:
    Year 1 : £219,487 Year 2 : £393,223 Year 3 : £417,856
    The licence fees that will be charged to licensees are calculated to recover these costs and the GSC will be reporting cannabis sector costs separately in its annual report.

To ensure that the Isle of Man’s cannabis sector is crime free, that products destined for medical use do not fall into the hands of criminals and that products produced by the sector are accurately labelled, the GSC will issue licenses and monitor compliance against their terms and conditions, ensuring that products are not diverted from their intended use and can be relied upon to be high quality.

While this nudges the door open on cannabis reform, it would hardly be a surprise to see recreational cannabis become a big topic among voters in this year’s General Election and is one the next administration will likely have to explore the pros and cons of.