The first licence for growing and exporting medicinal cannabis in the Isle of Man has been issued.

The Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) has issued the first letter of approval in principle to private company GrowLab Organics (GLO) to cultivate, extract, manufacture, import and export medicinal cannabis here.

In early 2021 the government introduced a ‘flexible and detailed regulatory framework’ to allow commercial operators to grow, manufacture, distribute and export cannabis products under licence from the Isle of Man.

Applications for licences opened last June.

Last week, the company of billionaire resident John Whittaker, Peel NRE, submitted its plans for a £150 million medicinal cannabis facility at Cooil Road in Braddan, on a 72-acre site, with a claimed 250 jobs to be generated.

It is not currently known where the company stands in terms of progress towards being granted a licence.

As for GLO, a UK-based company founded in 2018, it plans to headquarter itself in the island and purportedly create more than 50 jobs in three years.

Enterprise minister Tim Crookall commented: ‘The Isle of Man has a rich history of innovation in developing new sectors, and our department plan clearly sets out ambitious targets through the business agency to fully realise the potential of this market in the island.

‘This first offer letter represents the dawn of a new economic sector in the Isle of Man, which will drive high-value economic diversification across existing local sectors, stimulate job and training opportunities for Manx workers and encourage inward investment.

He added: ‘I am optimistic that this will play a key part in the Isle of Man’s economic future, and look forward to working with the Business Agency to continue to support and develop the highest calibre of companies establishing in the Island within the Medicinal Cannabis sector.’

The minister said that the department’s goal is to issue ten licences by 2025.

And Alex Fray, chief executive officer at GLO: said: ‘The emerging cannabis sector is potentially the most exciting global development of this generation and has the capability to transform the quality of life for millions of people.

‘GLO’s mission is to help people live better through the power of cannabis, whilst reducing the need for people to source cannabis from illicit sources for medicinal purposes.

‘Our unique and innovative approach will improve the quality, consistency and range of products available to patients.’

He continued: ‘Historically cannabis was woven into the fabric of Manx agriculture with hemp being grown on the island for rope and sail cloth.

‘Now it’s back, with a continuation of the island’s history of innovation and economic diversity and as part of that we expect to create over 50 jobs within the next three years.’

The Department of Health and Social Care also recently awarded a licence for the importation and dispensing of cannabis based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) on island to Karsons Pharmacy in Onchan, through private prescriptions.