THE government should ‘fight the corner’ of Jersey Hemp, a former Economic Development Minister who has championed the Island’s cannabis industry has urged after a UK Home Office ruling forced the company to close.

Deputy Lyndon Farnham, who has previously hailed the sector’s potential to become a ‘mainstay’ of Jersey’s economy, spoke after civil servants in Whitehall decided Jersey Hemp’s CBD products were illegal.

The ruling has resulted in the loss of eight jobs and the end of the company’s sales and growing operations.

Deputy Farnham said the news had raised ‘an issue of fairness’ given that other brands of cannabis-based wellbeing goods from outside the UK did not appear to have fallen victim to the same legislation.

Company director Craig Dempster said the firm had been hung out to dry by the UK and Jersey governments.

He argued that they were being told their product was banned because it contained THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – even though the level had been proven to be within legal parameters – and questioned why Jersey’s government had enforced the UK ruling.

Deputy Farnham said: ‘This issue appears to have stemmed from the UK Home Office’s legislative framework and I would urge our government to fight the corner of Jersey Hemp to see if some kind of compromise or solution can be found.

‘While I am confident the Island’s wider cannabis and hemp industry will continue to develop, this must be addressed as an issue of fairness, particularly as other providers outside of the UK seem unaffected.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘CBD in its pure form is not a controlled drug, but if a CBD product contains THC or other controlled cannabinoids then it is likely that the product would be controlled.

‘An import licence issued by the Home Office is required before controlled drugs are imported into the UK.’

Former Chief Minister Frank Walker – who chairs the board of medicinal-grade cannabis producer Northern Leaf – said: ‘It does seem tragic to me that a local business has found itself in this position and I very much hope that it can yet be rescued.’

In a joint statement with Health Minister Karen Wilson, current Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel said this week that the government ‘remains actively committed to supporting the cannabis cultivation industry’. The statement added that the ministers would not speculate on the talks between Jersey Hemp and the UK government.

The JEP attempted to contact Deputy Morel with additional questions, but was told by a government press officer that he would not be commenting further on the matter.

During the Bridging Island Plan debate last year, Deputy Morel described Jersey Hemp as ‘an incredible business’.

‘Jersey Hemp, in so many ways, is the ideal Jersey business. It is bringing an ancient Jersey industry, hemp growing, back to life and into the 21st century. In doing so, it is diversifying our economy; it is innovating through research and the creation of new products and is bringing money to the Island,’ he said at the time.