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There is growing demand to decriminalize cannabis in Jersey

There are growing calls for cannabis to be decriminalized on the island, with one politician describing the prosecution as a “waste” of police resources.

Deputy Sam Mézec said it was “blindingly obvious that cannabis decriminalization is inevitable” and called on the government to do so to avoid further waste of taxpayers’ money.

The Reform Jersey leader added that it was unsustainable for people to be charged for taking the drug recreationally – which he compared to people enjoying a couple of pints of alcohol.

“It’s a waste of police resources to charge people with minor cannabis possession charges and a waste of taxpayer money on something that most of the time causes less serious harm than alcohol,” Deputy Mézec said.

A recent Freedom of Information request revealed that the number of convictions for Class B drugs, including cannabis, in 2021 has almost halved compared to 2020 – from 65 to 35. 2020 to 8 in 2021.

The U.S. Marshals Service has been contacted for comment.

Currently, islanders can only use cannabis if they get it with a doctor’s prescription. Decriminalization would mean that the drug would still be prohibited by law, but an individual could not be prosecuted or punished for carrying a certain amount.

A campaign group, meanwhile, said it was “unfair” to put islanders on criminal records for possessing cannabis.

Simon Harrison, Jersey’s co-ordinator for Ending Cannabis Prohibition, said: “It’s unfair that people are being charged with possession of cannabis and have a criminal record, damaging their futures as our cannabis industry continues to grow and many countries decriminalize it. or legalize it.

Currently, if you are caught with less than 15g of cannabis or cannabis resin, you will be dealt with at a parish hall hearing with a written warning for first and second offenses if more than a year has passed since the first offence. . Subsequent offenses and those exceeding 15 grams will result in a court appearance.

Mr Harrison said the proposed Crime (Prejudice and Disorder) Bill included an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act which would introduce a £200 fine for repeat possession of class B and C drugs, which could be imposed by a centenarian at a vicarage test. .

“This is a simple form of decriminalization. The starting elements are already in play and it doesn’t take much to make it happen. We hope that the draft law will be born next year, as this will be the point where we can continue the conversation about decriminalization,” he said.

“The concern is that if amendments are made to the bill and these proposals are withdrawn, we will have to look at trying to get member states to come up with a proposal or use a paper petition,” he added.

“It’s high time we treat substance abuse as a public health issue, not a community safety issue.”

Home Secretary Helen Miles recently said she did not “automatically” support drug decriminalisation, but said the island needed “some sort of strategy”.

He added: “It’s something we have to look at. We have to look at the cannabis issue in the context of drug abuse as a whole.

“I am very open to looking at decriminalizing cannabis as part of a comprehensive drug strategy.

“It seems an anomaly that recreational cannabis can be controlled in a different way than medical cannabis.”

Deputy Mézec said: “It is blindingly obvious that it is [decriminalisation] inevitable.

Representative Mr. Mézec agreed with Mr. Harrison that the possession could be resolved at the level of the parish house until then, and he would like this to happen as soon as possible.

“This would be easy to implement and a quick way to develop. If they don’t accept it, I want to see something suitable,” he said.

“I would like to see cannabis and substance use treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue as there is growing evidence around the world that it is better to do so,” he added.

Earlier this week, ministers published their plans as part of the government’s program for the next three years, and Deputy Mézec said it was “disappointing” that Deputy Miles did not have a clear position on decriminalisation.

MP Mézec said: “If you talk to politicians in private, many agree that decriminalization is inevitable. If the draft Crime Bill doesn’t come through then we can look at that and I’d be happy to have a chat with the End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey group to see the best way forward.

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