JERSEY has granted its fifth commercial cannabis licence to early-stage cultivators Green Island Growers, as the Crown Dependency continues to solidify its status as a leading light in the development of the UK medical cannabis industry.
In late April, Green Island Growers announced that it had successfully completed a near year-long application process, and had now been granted a licence to ‘cultivate, produce, possess and supply cannabis’ by the Jersey Health Ministry.
Following the likes of GW Pharma and Northern Leaf, the company’s development in Jersey’s less restrictive regulatory environment will be watched closely by its mainland peers, amid growing suggestions from across the industry that Jersey could not only be a vital ‘case study’, but could provide a cut-and-paste regulatory framework for the wider UK.
Green Island Growers
The young company, which was established in 2019 by six Jersey residents, says the licence is a ‘major milestone’ which will allow it to ‘move forward to production with confidence’.
Its CEO Neel Sahai told BusinessCann that the company is now closing in on the completion of its conversion of a 3000sq metre glass house into a ‘high tech, hybrid’ growing facility.
While readily admitting that this space was considerably smaller than its competitors on the Island, with Northern Leaf’s facility spanning nearly 7000sq metres, Mr Sahai said his team’s research had determined that this size would allow a greater level of control over their crop.
“We just feel that we can control quality better by having it at that scale. If we went smaller, it becomes a cost of production issue. We needed to balance out the cost of production with being financially viable, but also being at a scale where we can concentrate on quality”.
It reportedly currently has an import request with the Jersey Government to bring two ‘super premium’ clones over from Canada, which it will then be used to build its ‘mother room’ by September.
In October Green Island Growers expects to begin propagating and getting into full-scale production from then onwards.
Once fully operational, the company plans to be sending out batches of 40 kilos each harvest, which is ‘relatively small compared to a lot of commercial growers’.
However, it plans to stagger harvests across its eight bays so that its harvests ‘every 10 days or so’.
“We’re going to start off by doing half the glass house for a period of six months or so, to get ourselves up to speed while we’re going through probably a bit of a learning curve.”
This glass house will eventually serve as the company’s ‘central processing area’, with plans to move into ‘a number of other glass houses’ as demand grows.
Meanwhile the company is currently in the application process for an EU GMP licence, which it hopes to secure in the next 12 months, and is constructing a GMP processing facility with the ultimate goal of producing finished cannabis-based products for medical use.
While the company waits for its GMP licence, it plans to sell bulk GACP dry flower to GMP certified businesses, who will package, label and sell on to pharmacies.
Green Island Growers, and other businesses operating on the Island, will provide a window for lawmakers, cannabis businesses and patients into how the UK’s medical cannabis industry could operate in the not-so-distant future.
While as a Crown Dependency, Jersey’s laws are closely aligned with those on the mainland, its Government’s commitment to creating ‘a new economic sector’ has seen it make some key strategic amendments to its laws.
On June 30th 2021, the States Assembly passed an amendment which essentially altered the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA).
Currently, companies that grow and sell recreational cannabis – even in countries where it is legal such as Canada – risk falling foul of PoCA.
The Jersey Government amended PoCA ‘specifically for cannabis’, meaning that income generated through the sale of recreational cannabis in around 30 markets where it has determined there are adequate anti-money laundering laws, will not suddenly become illegal as soon as it enters Jersey.
Furthermore, unlike the rest of the UK, Jersey’s GP’s do not need a special licence to prescribe medical cannabis, meaning that around 2% of Jersey’s population now hold prescriptions.
According to Professor Mike Barnes, this is in line with estimates of the percentage of the global population who would benefit from medical cannabis, suggesting all those in Jersey who are in need have access.
Mr Sahai added that prices on the black market in Jersey are also very high, with those caught facing more severe penalties than the rest of the UK.
“So I think you’ve got a situation where it’s accessible enough through GPs and medical cannabis clinics who set up on the island. And when you balance the risks of the black market and the costs, it swings in favour of accessing it through the legal medical route. I’m not sure that balance is necessarily there in the UK.
“It’s almost like Jerseys built up a whole ecosystem for medical cannabis on the Island, and it’s still evolving and moving quite quickly.”