Jersey might allow recreational cannabis use in the future

Politicians in Jersey are set to debate how cannabis could be decriminalised.

Deputy Tom Coles of St Helier South is proposing that people carrying small amounts of cannabis for personal use should not be arrested and face sanctions.

He says a change to the law would better align with the Substance Use Strategy. The government strategy believes people using substances is a symptom of a problem rather than the cause.

The backbencher says Jersey has a harm-reduction strategy but is still criminalising people.

"For me, the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use is a step to amalgamating our laws with that Substance Use Strategy."

"Criminalisation just isn't working on getting people to stop using substances, so this is why we have to change tact."

His proposal includes determining the law around:

  • How many grams would be an acceptable allowance,
  • Areas where consumption should be restricted,
  • Restrictions on driving under the influence of cannabis,
  • And, roadside capacity tests.

Other deputies have weighed in on the proposition, adding their ideas through amendments.

Deputy Inna Gardiner would like to see cannabinol and its derivatives downgraded to Class B drugs. At the moment, they are Class A, meaning they are in the same category as crack cocaine and heroin.

Deputy Alex Curtis would like to see islanders allowed to grow a small number of cannabis plants without being punished.

The Council of Ministers believes it is the beginning of an 'important conversation', but will ask the States Assembly for more time to work on 'fully informed proposals'. Among the further considerations, it lists:

  • Approaches to decriminalisation and regulation,
  • Use of the drug in the presence of children,
  • Personal cultivation and preparation,
  • Social supply,
  • Restrictions on the sale of cannabis to children,
  • And, approaches to children and vulnerable people coerced into cannabis-related activities.

Currently in Jersey medical cannabis is legal and people can carry it on them with their prescription.

The maximum amount of non-prescribed cannabis someone can carry for personal use, and only receive a written caution or £200 fine for the first offence, is 15g.

This involves being detained, questioned and the drugs being tested.

The person carrying the drugs must then attend a Parish Hall Inquiry for the offence, where they will be punished.

If the same person is caught with up to 15g of cannabis on them again, more than a year later, they will be met with the same penalty.

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