The U.S. Virgin Islands has passed legislation authorizing the recreational and sacramental use of cannabis for anyone 21 and older.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. Virgin Islands has passed legislation for adult-use and sacramental consumption of cannabis for anyone 21 and older, joining many countries across the more socially conservative Caribbean that have relaxed their cannabis regulations.
The move has been years in the making. Officials from the U.S. Virgin Islands have been traveling to Colorado to meet with manufacturers, law enforcement, cultivators, and others to get guidance on the industry before the signing of the bill on Wednesday by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.
Bryan stated that he hopes people on the islands will take advantage of these new opportunities ( referring to cultivation, manufacture, and sale of marijuana in the U.S. territory) brought forward by the burgeoning cannabis industry.
The governor added that his administration would immediately expunge the records of those sentenced to simple cannabis possession if eligible, contending that around 300 individuals in the U.S. territory of 105,000 inhabitants have been convicted in the last two decades.
According to Gov. Bryan, his goal is to make sure the many negatively affected by the criminalization of marijuana have every opportunity to partake in this flourishing legal cannabis industry. He added that the government would supply entrepreneurship and job education.
The U.S. Virgin Islands approved cannabis for medical consumption nearly four years ago.
The new law permits those 21 and older to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis, a half ounce of concentrates, and 1 ounce of products such as edibles for adult usage, sacramental, and other benefits.
Medical cannabis patients can possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana, 1 ounce of concentrates, and 2 ounces of other products.
Under the new regulation, cultivation permits will be awarded to those who use cannabis for religious purposes.
Dispensaries will tax customers at least 18% on all transactions. However, medical cannabis patients would be exempt, according to the newly approved bill.
The majority (three-fourths) of the tax revenue flows into the general fund. From that amount, 15% will go to behavioral health programs, 5% to homelessness, and 5% to youth programs.
The recently created Office of Cannabis Regulations just revealed the regulations of the newly approved industry after public hearings last year on proposed rules and regulations.
According to the new bill, the office will begin issuing applications for licenses and permits within a year of promulgating the regulations and rules.
The law asserts that the "closed economies" of the three islands that define the U.S. Virgin Islands have limited economic possibilities for its inhabitants, "many of whom have been affected by the prior prohibitions on possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana." It also declared it was appropriate to recognize its specific cultural and sacramental uses.