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HSC brings forward drug and alcohol strategy review

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Thursday 21 June 2018

In 2017, the strategic responsibility for the Drug and Alcohol Strategy was transferred from the Committee for Home Affairs to the Committee for Health & Social Care.

The transfer of responsibility recognised that a more unified approach to substance misuse is required. This reflects the growing acceptance that reducing drug supply alone is not sufficient to tackle the drug problem, and that an effective response also requires measures to reduce demand, such as prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. This emphasises the need for a more balanced approach to tackling the harms caused by drugs, supporting people through treatment and recovery and restricting the supply. The same principles are applicable to tobacco control and alcohol misuse.

Since the strategy was transferred, HSC took the opportunity, in February 2018, to amend the Misuse of Drugs (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 1974 (and associated amendments) in order to provide an exemption from various provisions in the law regarding the import, export, possession and supply of CBD products of a specified description. This was in recognition of the demand from Islanders to use such products for certain conditions.

More fundamentally, HSC has brought forward a review of the current drug and alcohol strategy, which was due to run to 2020, with a view to implementing a combined Substance Misuse Strategy in 2019.

On the 13th June 2018 the Committee agreed to develop a combined Substance Misuse Strategy, to include drugs, alcohol and tobacco. The terms of reference for this strategy will be subject to full consultation with key stakeholders including the Committee for Home Affairs but are expected include the following:

The strategic needs assessment is scheduled to commence in September 2018, with the externally commissioned review scheduled to commence in October 2018.

Deputy Soulsby, President HSC commented:

'I am delighted that the Committee has agreed to prioritise this important review. It is opportune now the strategy is the responsibility of HSC to reflect the wider health issues surrounding substance misuse. I am pleased that following 2 months of hard work by our Public Health colleagues we now have Committee agreement regarding a way forward with solid proposals to develop a combined Substance Misuse Strategy.'

It should be noted that this review has not been influenced by recent events in the UK and further afield. The Committee is fully aware of the changes and developments in other jurisdictions in this area of policy but are equally aware of the unique and specific characteristics of the Bailiwick. Indeed, unlike the UK, a policy is already in place that means any licensed medicinal form of cannabis on the market will be included on Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law if it is prescribed by a medical practitioner. Inclusion on the Schedule means that Guernsey can ensure properly licensed products are sourced, imported, prescribed and stored correctly. HSC's policy enables it to be nimble in responding to new products that become available globally.

In addition, the recently announced proposals in the UK to set up a clinical group to review individual requests, following the Billy Caldwell case, replicates a process already in place here.

 

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