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Government of

Information and public services for the Island of Jersey

L'înformâtion et les sèrvices publyis pouor I'Île dé Jèrri

Imports of medicinal cannabis products July to December 2023 (FOI)

Imports of medicinal cannabis products July to December 2023 (FOI)

Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 26 April 2024.
Prepared internally, no external costs.

​Original ​​​Request

Please provide the figures for the amount of medicinal cannabis products imported into Jersey in the last six months of 2023, broken down by month and product type.

Original Response

Please see attached medicinal cannabis imports by type, July 2023 to December 2023.

Medicinal cannabis imports by type.pdf

​Internal Review Request

I am not satisfied with the handling of my Freedom of Information request above.

It took 74 working days to receive the response, following 5 requests for extensions and several days of no communication in which I was led to believe that my request would not be forthcoming under Article 13.4 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011.

See the timeline of events below:

The Freedom of Information request in question was submitted on the 11 January 2024.

On 8 February 2024, the due date for the response, I was advised that an extension of 20 working days had been requested with the following explanation:

"They have advised that collating the information requested requires a manual review of records which is still ongoing, prior to seeking approval and final sign-off of your responses."

On 7 March 2024, the extended response due date, I was advised that an extension of a further 6 working days had been requested with the following explanation:

"The department dealing with your request has apologised and advised that recent technical difficulties within the department has led to a delay in them being able to complete the review of data relevant to your requests. Progress is being made, however they do require additional time to complete all of the necessary outstanding work."

On 15 March 2024, the due date for the response after the second extension, no response was forthcoming. Upon chasing the response from the Central Freedom of Information Unit, I received the following explanation:

"We spoke with a member of the team from the handling department this morning and they were in the process of chasing up on your requests."

On 18 March 2024, I was advised that an extension of 15 working days had been requested with the following explanation:

" is still being undertaken to collate the information requested into a reportable format and, regrettably, it has not been possible for the department to finalise this as yet, for which they sincerely apologise."

On 9 April 2024, the due date for the extended response, I was advised that an extension of 4 working days had been requested with the following explanation:

"They have advised that additional time is required to complete the data analysis and the review / approval process."

On15 April 2024, the due date for the response, I was advised that an extension of 2 working days had been requested with the following explanation:

"We are aware that they are endeavouring to review a couple of the data points to enable them to add the definitive values into the table and seek approval and final sign off."

On 17 April 2024, the due date for the responset, no response was forthcoming.

On 18 April 2024, I enquired as to whether the request had fallen into the territory of Article 13.4 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011, whereby:

"the applicant may treat the failure as a decision by the authority to refuse to supply the information on the ground that it is absolutely exempt information."

My email was elevated to [name redacted] in the Ministerial Office later that day, who apologised for the handling of my request, confirmed my reading of the law, and informed me that he would be getting in touch with the handling department.

On 23 April 2024, I contacted the Jersey Office of the Information Commissioner (JOIC) to seek their advice as to how to proceed with my request.

I finally received the response to my request on 26 April 2024, following interventions by [name redacted] and JOIC, which was published on 7 May 2024.

For context, this FOI request was a repeat request for the importation data, with the previous examples being as follows:

Medicinal Cannabis importation figures (FOI)

Medicinal Cannabis imports July to December 2022 (FOI)

Medicinal Cannabis imports January to June 2023 (FOI)

As I understand it, as a controlled drug it is a requirement under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 (extended to Jersey in 1977) to record and report this information to the International Narcotics Control Board, which in Jersey's case would likely be via the UK Home Office.

This is information that is therefore required as part of the ongoing business of Government, which has previously been published in States Reports and Freedom of Information responses without issue.

While I appreciate that the delay was outside of the control of the Central Freedom of Information Unit, I would like to request an Internal Review of what happened in this case in the hope that such excessive delays can be avoided in future.

Internal Review Response

It is agreed that the response to the above referenced Freedom of Information (FOI) request took 74 days from the receipt of the request and that this is significantly longer than is expected by those exercising their right to information via the Freedom of Information function, and indeed longer than Health and Community Services (HCS) would wish to disclose information to those requesting it.

To respond to the request for a review of the management of this FOI, the emails and other records that documented progress were reviewed, and the case was discussed with the HCS FOI Officer.

Following the review of the records, it was clear that there was regular and consistent activity aimed at progressing disclosure and that the FOI Officer was proactive in reporting the need for extensions and providing the reasons for such. 

Whilst some of the information was accessible directly, or via HCS colleagues, and therefore could be gathered within an appropriate timeframe, in order to ensure that the data that was provided was both accurate and most effectively reflected what was requested, there was a requirement for the FOI Officer to liaise with third parties for verification purposes. Whilst this engagement with stakeholders and third parties delayed the response, it did provide information that enabled a more accurate and relevant response. 

It can be seen from the records, that there was communication, including chasers, sent to those third parties, and as such, the delay in providing the final response was, to some extent, out of the control of HCS. However, it must also be noted that five FOI requests were received on the same day, all relating to medicinal cannabis, and covering various aspects of activity associated with such. The intensity of the receipt of these five requests impacted on the FOI function’s ability to meet the 20-day timeframe that the Department aim to achieve in this case. 

Currently, and as stated above, the reporting of data in this area is not automated, and data collection and quality checks are manual, relying on multiple stakeholders. On review of the management of this FOI response, there is certainly a case for working proactively with the Chief Pharmacist and other key stakeholders to define datasets and other information in the public interest, and work with HCS data analysts in order that they can automate reporting, ensuring accuracy and reducing the burden on officers for manual quality checks. Beyond that, HCS FOI is keen to reduce the requirement for people to submit FOI requests by promoting transparency and publishing data, making it accessible online, and updating it regularly and to an agreed publication schedule. 

In response to this review, therefore, the HCS FOI Officer, supported by the HCS Information Governance Manager, aim to work with key stakeholders to develop reporting in relation to medicinal cannabis so that subsequent requests can be responded to within a shorter period of time, or to enable direction of any requests to proactively published reporting. 

​HCS would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the delay in disclosing the information requested and provide assurance that the Department will endeavour to make improvements to their data collection and reporting practices and improve response times as a result.  

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