The self-governing territory of Jersey has moved one step ahead of the rest of the UK by allowing all doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana.

Last week the British government ushered in a new regulated medicinal cannabis industry, but only specialist doctors can prescribe it and critics say the guidelines are far too strict. Jersey, the channel island that lies between England and France, has taken a different tack by voting to allow all doctors to prescribe marijuana.

The island, which has a population of 100,000 and a remarkably high gross income and a GDP north of $6 billion thanks to its status as a global financial hub, is a British crown dependency. However, it has its own financial, legal and judicial systems and the power of self-determination. It has used that self-determination to veer away from the approach taken in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and allow all GPs to prescribe cannabis to patients.

Deputy Montfort Tadier, who drove the scheme, put forward plans to allow all medical professionals the right to prescribe cannabis, derivatives, cannabinoids, and pharmaceutically produced derivatives as of Feb. 29, 2019. His colleagues voted in favour of the proposals, a move which pleased the deputy. He called it a positive step for the island and said he was pleased to be leading the way in the British Isles.

The pressure is now on the rest of the UK to follow suit, as a cross-party group of MPs is furious with the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association for placing such strict conditions on doctors that want to prescribe marijuana.

They say that the NHS has essentially forced pain sufferers back onto the black market or to go abroad for treatment, asserting that the people behind the new guidelines should hang their heads in shame.

Central government will have been keeping a close eye on developments in Jersey, and it will be interesting to see how the Home Office reacts. Since January, Jersey residents have been able to receive a free prescription for cannabis-based painkiller Sativex, so the island has already been ahead of the times, and it could lead the way in rolling out a regulated industry for recreational cannabis in future.

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