I am off to visit the Isle of Man this week to speak on best practices to regulate and license cannabis and why they should be doing it, both because of and despite being a British-crown dependency.
The Isle of Man, situated between Ireland and the United Kingdom, has a population of 84,000. Statistics show that 3% of the population will become medical cannabis patients within 2 years following medicalization. The Government of the Isle of Man directly covers all healthcare costs for the population, which could encourage patient uptake as individuals will not bear the cost of what are sometimes expensive prescriptions.
There are many active and strong industries on the Isle of Man including IT, aerospace, banking and finance and a high proportion of the population are part of a highly-skilled workforce. Known for their forward thinking population, government, banking and export industries, the Isle of Man is ideally positioned to become a player early on in the global cannabis industry. Despite being a British Crown-dependency state, the government acts separately from the United Kingdom and therefore has a unique ability to pass legislation faster than the UK. It is likely that legislation for medical cannabis and decriminalization will occur sooner than it’s neighbours. Medical cannabis advocates hope that changes to legislation on the island will contribute to accelerated and broad spectrum medicalization in the UK.
In February 2018 the Isle of Man government released a Substance Abuse Strategy, in which it calls for a review of the clinical effectiveness of medical cannabis and evidenced-based documentation on decriminalizing small quantities for personal use. Government representatives have stated they want to investigate “alternative approaches” to their drug strategy. The Health Minister has also chimed in on the debate, recently commenting that he would like his government to be proactive, rather than reactive to the globally growing use of medical cannabis.
Based on trends we have seen in Canada and the more geographically relevant, Germany, medicalization and normalization of cannabis will positively impact the economy, boost established tech industry and benefit the health of the population. Particularly relevant to the Isle of Man is the decrease in crime rates seen in legal cannabis states. This could significantly impact crime rates on the island of which cannabis account for 10% of total prosecutions.
I’m looking forward to visiting the Island this week and contributing to the knowledge base for future policy and strategy in the area.