After years of discussions, deliberation and debate, this week finally saw the launch of two public consultations from the IOM Government. The papers want your input to help determine just how medicinal cannabis should be made available and whether growing cannabis on the Island should be allowed under a license system.
We cannot underestimate the significance of these papers. This is an overt chance for us as Island residents to have our opinions considered and to directly influence policy. The government have also confirmed the issue of decriminalising the recreational use of cannabis will be considered at a later date.
If you have an opinion on this – and let’s be frank, who doesn’t – this is a chance to have your voice heard. Head to https://www.gov.im/cannabis to access the papers and provide your feedback. Or you should find hard copies of the papers in libraries, local authorities and post offices.
So go on, wrench the Xbox controller from your stoner mate’s hand, forget about posting that facebook rant nobody cares about and instead, the pair of you make a difference.
Put down the bong Cheech; make your opinion reach! (government…make your opinion reach the government on account of you submitting your feedback on the consultation pap…oh forget it).
Which approach to medicinal cannabis would you support for the Isle of Man?
The launch of the long awaited public consultation – Prescribing of Medicinal Cannabis – is a historic step for the Isle of Man. The decisions we make now will help shape the landscape for future generations so it’s imperative that we make the right ones.
The first important question we’re asked is ‘Which approach to medicinal cannabis would you support for the Isle of Man?’ We’re given 5 options to choose from but many of us aren’t au fait with them. A drop down menu titled ‘Read more about these options’ will offer a brief explanation of options A (UK), B (AUS) & C (NL) but no information is provided for option D (USA/CA) – ‘Offer quality assured medicinal cannabis products direct to the public for self-medication through accredited dispensaries’. The UK, AUS & NL approaches appear to be fairly restrictive and in most cases patients are forced to exhaust all pharmaceutical options first so this doesn’t appear to provide patients with the option to try a natural product before having to resort to synthetic pharmaceuticals. So, let’s look at the USA/CA approach to medicinal cannabis. As regulations differ slightly between states we’ll look at California.
California was the first state to establish a medical cannabis programme back in 1996. Prop 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act, provided people with the right to obtain and use cannabis for any illness if they obtain a recommendation from a doctor. Medical cannabis ID cards are issued via California’s Department of Public Health Medical Marijuana Program and dispensaries within the state accept recommendations, with an embossed license, from a doctor who has given the patient an examination and believes cannabis would be beneficial for their ailment.
This approach has allowed thousands of patients to access medical cannabis to relieve pain and treat medical conditions without fear of prosecution and having to resort to the illicit black market. Basically, this approach (D) gives people the choice as to whether they wish to use medical cannabis. Many campaigners believe it is their human right to be able to choose.
Could cannabis legalisation help protect children?
I’m a firm believer that you can only make a decision if you have the relevant information. You wouldn’t vote for someone standing for election unless you’d read their manifesto first, right? Surely the risk of not knowing what you were voting for far outweighs the risk of not voting at all? So, how can you make a decision on whether cannabis should be legalised if you don’t know much about cannabis? Most people I speak to have an opinion on the subject but unfortunately many are unable to quantify that opinion as 9 times out of 10 its based on media sound bites or sensationalist headlines. So, let’s look at some of the common objections / concerns I’ve come across.
Cannabis is a gateway drug that leads people to take harder, more dangerous drugs.
The simple fact is that there is no scientific evidence that cannabis induces people to move on to harder drugs, however, there is a connection between cannabis & hard drugs – the drug dealer. It’s not inconceivable that drug dealers selling cannabis may also sell other harder, more dangerous drugs and its reasonable to assume that it’s in their financial interests to introduce their cannabis clients to their other, more dangerous and addictive wares in order to increase sales.
By creating a safe, regulated cannabis market we remove the drug dealer from the equation, therefore reducing exposure of the cannabis consumer to harder, more dangerous drugs.
Young people should not have easy access to cannabis. Having such access is dangerous to their health & wellbeing.
I think we all agree on this one but unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that they already do have easy access via the existing illicit black market. The Isle of Man’s Chief Constable, Gary Roberts, openly admits that cannabis is ubiquitous here, so, what can we do about it?
It seems the only way we can restrict access is to remove the illicit black market by creating a legal, regulated cannabis market. This coupled with clear and effective drug education to young people would also create awareness of the potential effects to health & wellbeing.
Potent cannabis appears to have a negative impact on young people’s mental health and can cause psychosis.
Studies have indicated that heavy & repeated use of cannabis containing high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the plant’s cannabinoid that gets you ‘high’, can affect adolescents and young adults who have growing brains and are at an age where schizophrenia is more likely to manifest. Unfortunately, the majority of cannabis available in today’s illicit black market contains high levels of THC, compared with cannabis that was common in the 80s & 90s. So, if young people already have easy access to a drug that is deemed ubiquitous in the Isle of Man, that contains high levels of THC, what can we do about it?
The first thing we can do is to remove the illicit black market and it seems the only way to achieve this is to create a legal, regulated market. By creating a safe and regulated market we can restrict access to young people and encourage less problematic use through taxation and education. Providing adequate information at point-of-sale would also help people understand the potency of the product that they intend on consuming.
We shouldn’t stop fighting the war on cannabis, it’s almost legal as it is. Drugs are illegal and should be policed.
I believe the ‘war on drugs’ was waged in the 1930s and how’s that worked out so far? 1 out of every 10 arrests on the Isle of Man are for possession of cannabis. Potent cannabis is ubiquitous on the Isle of Man. Should our police force simply be working harder?
With police budgets reportedly being slashed, resulting in fewer police officers on the streets I think that this option is simply unrealistic. The police confirm that 10% of prosecutions are for possession of cannabis and if even more resources were dedicated to this, obviously something would have to give – but what? Are there other crimes that we consider less important than consuming cannabis? I struggle to think of any off the top of my head so where does that leave us? By legalising cannabis and allowing it to be controlled, regulated and taxed the police would have greater resources to focus on more serious crimes and a portion of cannabis tax revenues could help increase police budgets, potentially resulting in a decrease of serious crime.
It’s clear to see from these common concerns that we have a subconscious desire to protect future generations from harm. So, the question you must ask yourself is whether you believe our current situation is the best method of preventing young people’s access to potent cannabis and the effectiveness of existing laws or whether operating a safe, regulated, legal environment that economically benefits the population would be a better solution? …the choice is yours.
The public consultation Prescribing of Medicinal Cannabis was launched on 6th February 2019 and will close on 20th March 2019, available by following this link https://www.gov.im/cannabis
Giles Day is the owner of Offshore Vapes and the soon to be opened, Greenhouse Dispensary. This will be a legal cannabis dispensary specialising in cannabinoid products located in Strand Street and opening in April.