The second biggest island in the English Channel, Guernsey is set to debate the legalisation of cannabis, according to the BBC. Guernsey Deputy Marc Leadbetter has proposed a political petition, or requete, as it is known in Guernsey, which needs to be put forward by seven member states if it is to be debated by the 38 representatives (known as deputies) in the States of Guernsey. The proposal was announced yesterday, shortly after the deputy resigned from his role on the Committee for Home Affairs. He is expected to ask the States of Guernsey to assign the Committee for Health and Social Care with investigating the introduction of a cannabis regime “similar to the Canadian public health focussed model”.
Cannabis is currently a Class-B drug on the island. A review in 2020 found that judges there were sentencing people found in possession of all drugs to prison in nearly two thirds of cases, this is compared to only 4% in England and Wales.
However Guernsey residents have been able to access medicinal cannabis through a prescription from a doctor since 2020, and in July this year, the law was changed to allow businesses to apply for a license to grow cannabis to supply to the medicinal market.
Mr Leadbeater said that he would be ”embarking on a massive education drive” among his colleagues. He also said, “I am already in advanced talks with a group of like-minded deputies looking at bringing the long overdue cannabis debate to the assembly in the first half of 2022.”
The president of the Home Affairs Committee from which Mr Leadbetter has recently resigned, Rob Prow said that it was Mr Leadbetter’s personal business dealings within the cannabis sector which caused other members of the committee alarm, “It is true that his personal business interests in the cannabis sector caused some concern amongst the committee in terms of our work to review justice policy, and this was one of the factors which led to a Committee majority decision to elect another member to work on the joint project board looking at non-punitive approaches to illegal drugs.”
Marc Leadbetter responded to Mr Prow’s comments with this statement, “I am a director of a local hemp business, but that does not conflict [sic] me from working on areas of drug policy reform. Deputy Prow is open on his long-standing stance on how we treat those who use drugs, and I am open in my belief that reform of our draconian drug laws needs to be progressed at pace. This appears to me to be the reason that Deputy Prow doesn’t want me working on the drug policy.”