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Long-awaited Substance Use Strategy expected within weeks

Long-awaited Substance Use Strategy expected within weeks

Saturday 29 April 2023

Long-awaited Substance Use Strategy expected within weeks

Saturday 29 April 2023

A new Substance Use Strategy will be released in the next “couple of weeks”, the Home Affairs Minister has revealed.

Deputy Helen Miles said that the Council of Ministers had this week received a “very comprehensive presentation” on the topic from Director of Public Health Professor Peter Bradley and Steve Gay, a Senior Public Health Policy Officer.

Speaking during a Scrutiny hearing, the Home Affairs Minister added that the presentation was “very well received”, and following finalisation, the new strategy is due to be lodged as a report before the States Assembly “in the next couple of weeks”.

The strategy was originally due to be presented to the Council of Ministers on 14 March but was bumped to the agenda for this week's meeting due to an overrun.


Pictured: Deputy Miles said the strategy was "well received" by the Council of Ministers.

Professor Bradley has now confirmed that "over the last year the Public Health Directorate have been developing a substance use strategy."

He said: “The draft strategy takes a ‘health and social’ approach to reduce harm and improve health. In doing so this covers a range of legal and illegal substances and different contexts of use.”

"The strategy has been developed in collaboration with a diverse range of internal and external stakeholders and follows international recommendations. This is to ensure alignment with best practice, existing Government of Jersey commitments and the needs of local stakeholders."

Professor Bradley added: "The strategy is now being finalised following review by the Council of Ministers, so at this time we cannot provide any further definitive timeline or detail."

Express received no further comment on whether the new strategy will scrap progress made by the previous government on decriminalising cannabis.

In August 2022, Deputy Miles previously said she was not "automatically in favour" of decriminalising the drug, but would "look at" it as part of a wider substance-use strategy.

She admitted that "it does seem anomalous that cannabis for recreation might be controlled in a separate way that medicinal cannabis is".

At that time, Jersey's Public Health team also announced it had decided to move away from "drugs are bad" campaigns to focus on promoting harm reduction among islanders – from "just say no" to "just stay safe".

A new Drug and Alcohol Strategy has been on the cards for several years.

In 2021, former Home Affairs Minister Len Norman said that the decriminalisation of drugs was something "we wanted to look at". Gregory Guida, who eventually took on the role of Home Affairs Minister, also said his position was "very much the same".


Pictured: In Jersey, the first licence for the commercial cultivation of medicinal cannabis was issued in January 2021, putting the island at the forefront of the emerging European medicinal cannabis market.

The End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey campaign group have been calling for a review of the use of medicinal cannabis in Jersey, saying there is a "massive gap" in understanding.

The group's co-ordinator Simon Harrison said: "It is unfair that people are being prosecuted and left with a criminal record for possessing cannabis which tarnishes their future, when we have a growing medicinal cannabis industry and many countries are now moving to decriminalise or legalise it."

Removing criminal penalties for possessing some drugs can reduce prison numbers and the perils of addiction. In 2001, for example, Portugal decriminalised the possession of drugs for personal use which resulted in a drop of overdose deaths.

Currently, islanders can only use cannabis if it is obtained through a medical prescription.

Decriminalisation would mean the drug would still be prohibited by law, but an individual could not be prosecuted or criminalised for carrying a certain amount.

Islanders can contact the Alcohol and Drugs Service on 445000 for advice and support.

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