The Isle of Man Government has passed new regulations to create a comprehensive framework to issue licenses for the production, distribution and export of cannabis products from the Island. Tynwald has approved changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations which will permit commercial operators to produce medical cannabis products.
The growing global cannabis market provides significant opportunity for economic development in Isle of Man. The new regulatory framework responds to industry and consumer demand for stringent and flexible licensing of a broad range of cannabis products ranging from outdoor grown industrial hemp to indoor grown medicinal products.
The Gambling Supervision Commission (‘GSC’) will serve as the launch regulator for the sector, which is estimated to bring approximately 250 new jobs and generate around £3 million in annual benefit in the coming years.
The Commission has now laid regulations, has begun issuing guidance for licensing of the industry and will accept hemp applications from Isle of Man growers shortly. Detailed guidance for high-THC operators will become available in February.
The GSC is well suited to launch this new sector: its regulatory checks on the fitness of people, their funds and their competence are easily adapted to the medical cannabis sector; it already boasts a world-class system for assessing regulatory risk and conducting physical inspections for its licensees. The GSC has been given access to cannabis industry expertise as it has worked up its guidance material. It is also familiar with working with its counterparts in other countries, which will form an important part of the project’s success.
Lawrie Hooper MHK, political member with responsibility for Business Isle of Man, said:
‘We are delighted to launch this exciting new sector in the Isle of Man and to take advantage of the expertise in regulating new, complex industries while providing stringent consumer safety. We’re confident that GSC’s regulation will once again attract quality businesses to the Island transforming the cannabis export sector into a key contributor to the Isle of Man’s post-COVID economic recovery.’
Mark Rutherford, responsible for preparing the new regulatory framework at the GSC, commented:
‘The Island has a track record as an early adopter of new sectors. Over the course of the past 20 years acting as the regulator for the Island’s eGaming sector, the GSC has developed expertise in keeping the industry crime free, protecting consumers and providing transparency, and this experience is complementary to the skills that will be required for this new and emerging sector.
‘This is an exciting opportunity and we have a sophisticated framework for supervising gambling which can be easily adapted to regulate the cultivation and processing of cannabis. We recognise there is huge potential for this new sector to create real positive economic benefit so we need to ensure we treat the new cannabis sector like we have treated the gambling sector: that license stakeholders that are competent, credible and crime free from the outset.’
The GSC will work with all relevant Government Agencies and law enforcement to oversee the stringent regulations under proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Details will soon be published on the guidance which will support the new regulations, providing interested parties with details on the license requirements. The regulations are designed to provide a safe and regulated export market for cannabis products ranging from industrial hemp to high quality medical cannabis. The regulations are also aligned with current UK cannabis regulation and practice and do not change Isle of Man’s domestic policy toward the use of cannabis by residents.
Cannabis is an emerging global sector, and the GSC will look to foster, recruit and retain the necessary expertise within the industry in order to provide a world-class regulatory regime for the sector.
The Department for Enterprise consultation into the export-only sector closed on 19 November. The response document is available on the Consultation Hub.