Government ‘formulating’ policy on use of medical marijuana

Mark Viales

The Gibraltar Government is ‘formulating’ a policy on the use of medical marijuana on the Rock, according to Minister for Health Neil Costa.

This was in response to PANORAMA questions during a press conference at No6 yesterday on the back of the announcement that the government was considering the growth of legal cannabis products.

However, in a follow-up question to the government press office to confirm the minister’s comments and ascertain whether medical marijuana would be provided locally, the response was:

“The policy is being considered and will have to include consultation with the Drug Advisory Council.”

Last week the government said it was approached in respect of a UK/Canadian model for the development of a pharmaceutical business and had earmarked one of the Rock’s WWII tunnels as a potential site.

Apparently the proposal was ‘in keeping with Gibraltar law and follows all UK Home Office rules’ in respect of the industry, but the government had not yet determined its response.

The announcement received staunch opposition from the GSD who said that such an industry could damage Gibraltar’s reputation.

However, Independent MP Marlene Hassan-Nahon was more supportive of the initiative, but she bemoaned the fact that the government had limited the proposal to export only.

Equality Rights Group Chair Felix Alvarez told PANORAMA this week that he also welcomed the proposal but condemned the GSD for double standards regarding Gibraltar’s reputation.


The UK is the world's biggest producer of medical cannabis, growing nearly half of the world's legal marijuana, according to a new study.

Britain produced 95 tonnes of legal marijuana in 2016, making up 44.9 per cent of the world's total, according to statistics taken from the UN's International Narcotics Control Board.

This was more than double the production from the previous year (42 tonnes) where 2.1 tonnes were exported from the UK in 2016, making up 67.7 per cent of the global total.


But as some countries move to legalise the plant, Britain could be missing out on a European cannabis industry ‘green rush’ that could be worth up to €56bn.

An article in the Independent said that the UK has ‘nonsensical prohibition policies that criminalise a legitimate medical industry, hurting thousands of patients with debilitating conditions, experts have warned’.

Canada legalised marijuana for medical use in 2002, but in 2015 the country’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, committed to legalising recreational use, which led to an explosion in the industry.

The accommodating legal framework has allowed entrepreneurs like Gibraltar’s Tarik Ouass (who owns shares worth 415.6 million Canadian dollars in MedReleaf Corporation) to expand their business exponentially.

Indeed, many of these companies are seeking to market their products in certain European countries already at various stages of implementing legalisation such as Germany, Poland, Ireland and Greece.

It could be possible that the government has woken up and smelled something other than coffee in its bid to diversify Gibraltar’s economy.