Jersey has awarded its 5th commercial cannabis license to new grower Green Island Growers as the Crown Dependency continues to cement its status as a leader in the development of the UK medical cannabis industry.
At the end of April, Green Island Growers announced that it had validated an almost year-long process and that the Jersey Department of Health had granted it a license to “cultivate, produce, possess and supply cannabis”.
After GW Pharma and Northern Leaf, the company’s development in Jersey’s less restrictive regulatory environment will be closely watched by its mainland counterparts, as the industry increasingly suggests that Jersey could not only be a “study important case study, but also provide a copy-and-paste regulatory framework for the whole of the UK.
Green Island Growers
The start-up, set up in 2019 by six Jersey residents, said the license is an “important step” that will allow it to “go into production with confidence”.
Its CEO, Neel Sahai, told BusinessCann that the company is close to completing the conversion of a 3,000 square meter greenhouse into a “hybrid, high-tech” growing facility.
While readily admitting that this space is considerably smaller than its competitors on the island, with Northern Leaf’s facility spanning nearly 7,000 square meters, Mr Sahai said his team’s research determined that this size would allow for a greater level of control over their cultivation.
“We just think we can control quality better by working at this scale. If we went smaller, it would become a production cost issue. We needed to find a balance between cost of production and financial viability, but also a size that allowed us to focus on quality.”
The company is currently believed to have an import application with the Jersey government to bring in two ‘super premium’ clones from Canada, which will then be used to build its ‘mother room’ by September.
In October, Green Island Growers plans to begin multiplication and embark on large-scale production.
Once fully operational, the company plans to send out 40 kilo batches each harvest, which is “relatively small compared to a lot of commercial growers”.
However, it plans to stagger the harvests in its eight bays so that its harvests occur “every 10 days or so”.
“We’ll start by doing half the greenhouse for a period of about six months, to level up while we’re probably going through a learning curve. »
This greenhouse will eventually serve as the company’s “central processing area”, and there are plans to move into “a number of other greenhouses” as demand grows.
In the meantime, the company is in the process of applying for an EU GMP license, which it hopes to obtain within the next 12 months, and is building a GMP processing facility with the ultimate goal of producing finished cannabis products. for medical use.
While waiting to obtain its GMP license, the company plans to sell GACP dry flower in bulk to GMP-certified companies, who will package, label and resell it to pharmacies.
Jersey, UK model
Green Island Growers, and other companies operating on the island, will offer lawmakers, cannabis businesses and patients a window into how the UK’s medical cannabis industry might operate in the not-too-distant future. .
Although as a Crown dependency, Jersey’s laws are closely aligned with those of the mainland, its government’s commitment to creating “a new economic sector” has led it to make key policy changes to its laws .
On June 30, 2021, the States Assembly passed an amendment that essentially amends the Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA).
Currently, companies that grow and sell recreational cannabis – even in countries where it is legal, such as Canada – are at risk of falling under PoCA.
The Jersey government has amended the PoCA “specifically for cannabis”, which means that revenue generated from the sale of recreational cannabis in approximately 30 markets where it has determined that there are adequate anti-money laundering laws will not become suddenly illegal as soon as they entered Jersey.
Also, unlike the rest of the UK, GPs in Jersey do not need a special license to prescribe medical cannabis, meaning around 2% of Jersey’s population now have prescriptions.
According to Professor Mike Barnes, this figure is in line with estimates of the percentage of the world’s population that would benefit from medical cannabis, suggesting that everyone in Jersey who needs it has access to it.
Mr Sahai added that black market prices in Jersey are also very high, and those caught face stiffer penalties than in the rest of the UK.
“So I think we are in a situation where cannabis is sufficiently accessible thanks to the general practitioners and the medical cannabis dispensaries that are setting up on the island. And when you weigh the risks of the black market against the costs, it weighs in favor of legal medical access. I’m not sure that balance necessarily exists in the UK. »
“It’s almost as if Jersey has built a whole ecosystem for medical cannabis on the island, and it’s still evolving and quite rapidly. »