The results of the recent public consultations into the medicinal use of cannabis and the licensing of industrial hemp production have now been made available.
Publication of the two reports comes after a six-week consultation period which closed on 20 March this year.
The number of responses to both was extremely high, with many respondents leaving additional comments and opinions as well answering the tick-box part of the online form.
The consultation into the medicinal use of cannabis garnered the largest number of responses, with a total of 3285 replies from both island residents and local organisations. The hemp consultation received 1012 responses. Multiple replies, and those from non-Isle of Man postcodes, were not counted.
Medicinal use of cannabis
The focus of this consultation was on the medicinal use of cannabis aimed at reducing the symptoms of a medical condition. Several options were suggested, from remaining in line with recently amended UK legislation to rejecting the medicinal use of cannabis completely.
Strongest support (55% of respondents) was shown for the option to offer quality-assured medicinal cannabis products direct to the public through accredited dispensaries. There was also substantial support (36%) for developing a framework similar to that in the Netherlands, which gives medical professionals greater leeway in deciding when to prescribe medicinal cannabis.
The majority of respondents (62%) were also in favour of restricting access to medicinal cannabis to those over 18, except in a small number of clearly defined conditions.
There was also very strong support (95%) for allowing cannabis to be cultivated and processed on the Island, subject to suitable regulation.
Many of those who responded to the consultation also gave their views on specific topics including alternative regulatory frameworks, professional oversight and the need for any legislation to be carefully tailored to the Island’s specific requirements.
Industrial cultivation of hemp
This consultation looked for views and opinions on the potential licensing of hemp for industrial use on the Isle of Man, and the potential economic advantages which cultivating hemp as an industrial crop could bring.
Currently, it is illegal to cultivate any plant of the genus cannabis, which makes growing hemp for industrial purposes also unlawful, but the Department of Health and Social Care is able to regulate and grant licences to allow cannabis growth if required.
The majority of respondents (97%) supported the introduction of a regulatory framework within which industrial hemp production could be permitted in the Isle of Man.
At 63%, the majority of respondents favoured a similar framework to that currently in place in the UK.
The consultation also gathered comments on support for the UK licensing process, development of a bespoke Manx licence and opportunities for diversification.
Commenting on the publication of both reports, David Ashford MHK, Minister for Health and Social Care said:
“The response to this has been overwhelming. In fact, it’s amongst the highest number of responses we have ever had since the Government set up the Consultation Hub more than two years ago.
“It’s clear that there is an appetite for a thoughtful approach to changes to regulation concerning both medicinal cannabis and cultivation of industrial hemp. The responses have been mature, considered and balanced and it is now up to me, the Department and my political colleagues to consider our next steps.
“I would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to complete the questionnaire, and to give us so much additional feedback.”