BACK in 2019, when this newspaper reported claims that the Island could have a cannabis industry worth £300 million, many thought it sounded too good to be true.

The Island could be first and become a pioneer and global leader, so the hype went.

Lyndon Farnham, then a Senator and the Economic Development Minister, said that Jersey had a “window of opportunity”. He added, however, that the regulatory regime must be of the highest standard. “We are announcing this because a significant amount of preparation, planning and investment is required from private-sector companies entering the market,” he said.

Yesterday came the clearest indication yet that the window has closed, certainly to the extent that Jersey has any real hope in realising those initial lofty ambitions.

First, Jersey Hemp went to the wall and is taking legal action against both the Jersey and UK governments after the latter claimed that its CBD products were illegal despite meeting the necessary requirements to be exempt from controlled-drug legislation. The firm was barred from importing CBD products to the UK and folded, with the loss of several jobs.

Now it has been revealed that a planned merger between medicinal cannabis grower Northern Leaf, which is based at the former Tamba Park site in St Lawrence, and UK-based Voyager Life PLC has collapsed after they failed to find sufficient investment for the £5 million deal. When the proposed merger was announced, the JEP revealed that Northern Leaf shareholders had been told that this was last-chance saloon, and the company would have to be wound up unless the deal went through.

No statement has yet been made about whether that will now happen. Around £40 million had been invested in the venture, the JEP understands.

So what went wrong? There is little doubt that the investor appetite globally in medicinal cannabis has waned, but that is certainly not the full story. It might also be true that Northern Leaf tried to get too big too quickly, but there is another issue which is common to both that company and Jersey Hemp.

The surface political enthusiasm was not backed up a supportive civil service in key areas that could have smoothed and expedited the journey to market. The players in this nascent industry would agree that while Jersey should be pragmatic when it comes to regulation, government has been nothing of the sort – with yet another burst of entrepreneurialism strangled.

It is a tale you will hear in several sectors, not least finance, the layer of the golden egg for decades. And it is one which comes with a warning – risk-averse, slow-moving civil servants, bureaucrats and regulators with little or no commercial experience risk killing sectors that are essential for the economy, and which pay many salaries.