INCREASING numbers of young Islanders are experiencing mental-health problems from cannabis use, amid concerns that supplies obtained under prescription are being sold on for recreational use, the Health Minister has admitted.
Deputy Karen Wilson said a ‘cannabis agency’ would be set up to improve regulation and ensure that medicinal cannabis was administered in a ‘safe and effective’ way to protect the industry, suppliers and users.
‘We have seen an increase in the number of young people experiencing poor mental health as a consequence of the increasing use of recreational cannabis, which is a concern,’ Deputy Wilson said.
The minister was responding yesterday to questions from Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel chair Deputy Rob Ward, who suggested that cannabis obtained under prescription – in what he described as an ‘unregulated world’ – seemed to be ‘driving an underlying market for cannabis’.
While Deputy Wilson stressed that supplies of cannabis were being held legally for medical purposes – following the States’ decision to allow cannabis to be available on prescription – she expressed concern about the impact that a lack of regulation was having on the health and wellbeing of Islanders.
‘What we are talking about is what subsequently happens and how these substances are used for recreational purposes – that’s the concern,’ she said.
The minister also said she wanted to seek the Scrutiny panel’s views on whether a special panel, focusing specifically on the issue of medicinal cannabis, could be established to explore some of the issues that had arisen.
Deputy Ward said that, while the matter would have to be put formally to the Scrutiny Liaison Panel, he thought it was a ‘good idea’.
Outlining the reason for action, the Health Minister pointed out that medicinal cannabis clinics, like some other providers of healthcare services, were not currently regulated.
‘We are going to establish a cannabis agency to understand what the full pattern of regulatory requirement is, both from an industry perspective in terms of making Jersey a place where, if people want to develop an industry, that they know there’s going to be a high standard of regulation. This will obviously make sure that it’s a good product and that it’s also going to be safe and effective – that’s to protect the industry as much as it is to protect the supplier and the end user,’ she said.