To the surprise of many, including the Bailiff Richard McMahon, Deputy Andrew Taylor dropped his amendment to take any consideration of the legal status of the drug out of the Government Work Plan.
And so the closest deputies got to a debate on cannabis was a short-lived affair, led by Home Affairs president Rob Prow, who is strongly against any changes. The debate centred on ensuring that all committees involved in any cannabis review would be given the resources to allow them to do so properly.
Deputy Prow said that he believed that the Public Health team at Health & Social Care, which is promoting the drug review, would not be able to do the work in isolation, and said he expected a further four committees, the third sector and the community would need to take a stake in it.
Some deputies did find the opportunity to stray into a more general cannabis debate irresistible, and some were concerned that the amendment had potential to wreck the bigger debate.
HSC vice-president Deputy Tina Bury said it was ‘over-egging’ the level of resource needed for a scoping review.
Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller described it as a red herring and ‘making an elephant out of a molehill’ while Chief Minister Peter Ferbrache said he would oppose it and even if it were approved, he did not know where the requested extra resources would come from.
Deputy Prow found a level of support from Health president Deputy Al Brouard though, who admitted that he did not want a review of the legal status of cannabis and neither did he want Public Health reviewing the role of the medical officer of health. In his view, his committee had far greater operational priorities.
‘I don’t think we should be investigating the legalisation or decriminalisation of cannabis at this time. It will take a huge amount of resources and I’m not sure we’ll like the answer once we get it back at the end.’
Ultimately Deputy Prow scored a narrow victory by 17 votes to 15, but will go back into battle, almost certainly today, for a full cannabis debate.