The governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) has signed legislation to decriminalize marijuana and make it easier to get cannabis convictions expunged from one’s record, according to a report by Marijuana Moment.
The bill was introduced by Independent Senator Janelle Sarauw and signed into law by Democratic Governor Albert Bryan Jr. with just 10 days to go. At the same time, he made a statement that people who had been convicted of cannabis possession in the past could apply for a pardon.
“From the beginning of the Bryan-Roach Administration, we have worked towards the legalization of the adult use of cannabis, and today, with the hard work of the members of the 34th Legislature and prior legislatures and the efforts of my team, we are finally here and finally signing into law the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act,” the governor, who has issued his own plan for legalizing in the new year, stated.
Bryan thanked a number of lawmakers for their work on the issue at a signing ceremony, but he neglected to mention the person who wrote the reform bill. Their relationship has been tense, and the governor has openly criticized the senator for what he sees as unnecessary delays in bringing the reform proposal to the table.
Key provisions of the USVI legalization statute are as follows:
- Marijuana, cannabis concentrates, and cannabis products like edibles, ointments, and tinctures are legal for adults over 21.
- The Act will establish an Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR) to grant marijuana company licenses, regulate the industry, and set advertising, packaging, and labeling standards.
- There will be licenses and permits for cannabis makers, retailers, cultivators, micro-cultivators, testing laboratories, and on-site consumption companies.
- For each of the territory’s main islands, OCR will limit licenses. After January 1, 2025, regulators can issue more if they prove customer demand requires it.
- Religious marijuana users can seek cultivation permits.
- Dispensary marijuana will be taxed at 18%, but medical cannabis will not. License fees and a 50 cent per gram tax on cannabis farmers who sell to other licensees are also included in the measure.
- The territory’s general fund, cannabis program administration, behavioral health, homelessness, and youth recreation programs will share revenue.
- Track-and-trace for cannabis items will be implemented.
- The legalizing bill also prioritizes application scoring for minority, women, and service-injured entrepreneurs.
- Each serving of edibles can contain up to 10 milligrams of THC.
- Cannabis business ownership also requires residence.
- Labels must include health warnings and not appeal to under-21s, according to the measure.