The Isle of Man is home to only 84,000 people, standing alone in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. Arguably its most famous talking point is the annual motorcycle race, but most recently the nation has been making headlines for its consideration to become a hub for cannabis cultivation and exportation. If approved, these ambitious plans will launch this small self-governing British Crown dependency into the ever-expanding European cannabis market.
“The Isle of Man is currently looking to allow the gross manufacture and export of cannabis products, using the island as a base for those operations,” said Andrew Yates in an interview with Green Flower. Yates is the Pharmacy Lead for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis UK (CMCUK).
The CMCUK has been asked by the Isle of Man Government to help set out a strategic vision for cannabis. “What has been approved by the council of ministers is a consultation exercise and a change to the regulations that would allow cultivation, manufacturing, and export,” explained Yates.
Although the Isle of Man is heavily dependent on the United Kingdom, they have their own governing body which gives them the freedom to make decisions on issues such as cannabis reform. Nevertheless, the UK government is aware of this potential move.
“As part of this consultation, the UK has been informed and there’s nothing that the Isle of Man is proposing to do that would be offensive or detrimental to the UK government,” Yates declared. This is good news for proponents of medical cannabis, given the extremely slow progress that has been made in the United Kingdom on cannabis reform of any kind.
There is also significant support from the Isle of Man inhabitants. In June of 2019, the government released the results of a public consultation and found that 95 percent of respondents said they would support the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products.
Although they are still in the early stages of this fact-finding mission, Yates is optimistic about the work being done. “I think this is a great starting point. What they’ve been able to do in the Isle of Man with this consultation is take some learnings from what the UK currently does and improve on them,” he said. One direction Yates would like to see the government move toward is the utilization of the whole plant.
An added ripple effect to the consultation is the influence this move may have on further cannabis reform in the UK, France, and perhaps other surrounding countries — something that Yates believes can happen.
“If they were to work with those respective governments to say ‘here’s what we want to do,’ and ‘we think this would be a good pilot for things that could happen elsewhere,’ then yes, I believe that would be impactful for the UK, Ireland, and other countries.”
The Isle of Man has set up a website for this consultation, and the government is accepting submissions from both citizens and others to express their views. The deadline for submission is November 19, 2020.