The United States Virgin Islands have joined other socially conservative Caribbean nations in legalizing marijuana for recreational and sacramental use by those of legal age.
Prior to Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s signature on Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands traveled to Colorado to learn about the sector from growers, manufacturers, police enforcement, and others.
Bryan said of the marijuana industry in the U.S. territory, “We are bringing the opportunity to you, but you must also do your part to seize these opportunities.”
About 300 persons in the U.S. territory with 105,000 inhabitants have been convicted in the last 20 years for basic cannabis possession, according to Bryan, who added that his administration will cleanse the records of those who are qualified.
He added that the government would provide opportunities for business ownership and employment in the newly legalized cannabis industry. “It is my goal to make sure many of us who have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of cannabis are afforded every opportunity to participate in this new and legal cannabis industry,” he said.
Medical marijuana has been legalized in the U.S. Virgin Islands as of 2019.
Adults can now legally carry up to 2 ounces of marijuana for recreational, sacramental, or other uses, as well as 0.5 ounces of concentrate and 1 ounce of goods like edibles.
Medical marijuana patients can legally carry up to 4 ounces of marijuana, 1 ounce of concentrate, and 2 ounces of products.
Those who wish to grow marijuana for spiritual reasons will now be able to apply for growing permits.
The newly passed law mandates a minimum 18% tax at dispensaries, with the exception of sales to medicinal marijuana users.
The majority (about 75%) of tax money collected will be allocated to the nation’s general budget. There will be a 15% allocation to mental health initiatives, 5% to homeless aid, and 5% to youth initiatives.
When the rules for the newly sanctioned sector would be put in place wasn’t immediately apparent. Unfortunately, we were unable to immediately reach anyone at the Office of Cannabis Regulations, which was established a year ago and which last year held public hearings on proposed rules and regulations.
Within one year of the rules and regulations being promulgated, the bill mandates that the office begin accepting applications for licenses and permits.
Many people in the U.S. Virgin Islands “have been impacted by the earlier bans on cultivation, possession, and sale of cannabis,” according to the law, which notes that the islands of the U.S. Virgin Islands have “closed economies” that limit economic options for its residents. The document also acknowledged its legitimacy for usage in ritual and ceremonial contexts.