U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has given a new medical marijuana law his stamp of approval, making the territory the latest Caribbean jurisdiction to open its doors to cannabis businesses and potential new tourism opportunities.
The move has been years in the making, with voters having favored medical cannabis in a 2014 referendum.
In addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands, other U.S. territories that have approved MMJ include Guam and Puerto Rico.
An Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR) will be established within the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
The OCR will publish rules within four months, and the issuance of licenses will start three months after that.
The law, known as the Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act (MCPCA), will also create a new medical cannabis tourism industry by allowing patients from states and countries with regulated markets to access Virgin Islands medical cannabis for a fee and, according to the statute, “allow non-cannabis patients worldwide to visit the Virgin Islands and receive cannabis therapy as part of an in-patient program.”
Three classes of cultivation will be allowed:
- Patients and caregivers will be permitted to grow a small quantity for personal use.
- “Family farms” will be allowed to cultivate up to 100 plants.
- Larger commercial grow operations will be allowed to grow up to 1,000 plants.
The MCPCA will be tasked with regulating the medical cannabis industry by providing online “seed-to-sale” oversight, according to the law.
Licenses will be provided for MMJ product manufacturing facilities to process cannabis through extraction and infusing the extracts into goods that could act as a smokeless alternative for consumers.
Patients will be required to receive a medical cannabis recommendation from a health-care professional.
To sign up for our weekly International marijuana business newsletter, click here.