Plan for Isle of Man envisions export-focused strategy

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The Isle of Man government has received a consultation document for an export-oriented cannabinoid regulatory framework the authors say could position the country as a leading jurisdiction in licensing cannabis products.

Developed at the government’s Department for Enterprise, the consultation envisions growing both hemp and marijuana, developing extraction and other infrastructure, and establishing import and export schemes.

Cannabis on the Isle of Man is illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1976, but a clause in that act allows licenses to be granted for the cultivation, harvesting and processing of cannabis plants. The consultation on cannabis exports recommends capitalizing on that allowance by establishing an export-only strategy.

Strategy for Europe

Legislation that aligns with the consultation would create an industry focused on CBD and medical marijuana products. Noting that the European Parliament is moving to improve access to medical cannabis, the consultation suggests: “This presents the Isle of Man with an opportunity to provide the right regulatory framework for businesses to establish on-island and address markets within the EU as they develop and mature.”

Such a law could face a parliamentary debate and a vote as early as this December. If the law is enacted, the plan could be implemented as early as January 2021, advocates say.

London-based industry group Canna Consultants worked with the Island’s Department for Enterprise in developing the draft framework. The paper sets the background for a Cannabinoid Industry Consultation Process which began on Oct. 23 and ends Nov. 19.

‘Filling a gap’

“The Department sees an opportunity to create a framework for a well-regulated licensing structure to serve this need for today’s and tomorrow’s cannabis-derived products,” the consultation observes, laying out an aggressive plan for development.

“The objective is to facilitate, through a world class regulatory structure, a new cannabinoid cultivation and processing industry for export whilst safeguarding the Island’s reputation, the health and safety of our community and our commitment to encourage sustainable economic activity in harmony with our natural resources,” the consultation notes.

The Island can do that “by filling a gap in the market for clear regulatory guidance and oversight of this new industry and leveraging the Island’s historic success in building gold-standard regulations for complex emerging industries,” the paper observes.

The island’s potential

The Department said Isle of Man can be a leading jurisdiction in licensing cannabis products by replicating its track record of licensing success, notably in the e-Gaming sector, and by building on its well-regarded Ship Registry and Aircraft Registry regimes. The Island, a British dependency, benefits from being self-governing and not bound by European Union laws and regulations. It gives the Isle of Man the opportunity to customize goods according to guidelines in different markets where different cannabis and consumer rules may apply.

The cannabis industry on Isle of Man has the potential to create up to 250 jobs by 2025, generate up to £11.5 million (~€12 million/~$14.5 million) in wages and bring in potential tax income of £3 million (~3.3 million/~$4 million) per year to the government, the consultation suggests.

The Department of Enterprise recommends eight licensing categories in the consultation: Transport and seed storage; cultivation and harvesting; transport and storage; extraction and processing; import; export; manufacturing; and analysis and testing.

The London-based Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, a member-supported medical cannabis industry group, was also an adviser on the consultation.

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