On Tuesday last week, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. signed a bill that legalized medical cannabis in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This brings to an end a long process that started with a referendum in favor of medical cannabis in 2014. 56.5 percent of the voters agreed that medical cannabis should be legalized and regulated.
Senator Positive Nelson then drafted a bill to actualize medical cannabis in the jurisdiction but the bill didn’t sail through the legislature. He persisted in bringing new bills during each legislative session until the most recent one passed in December last year and was assented to by the Governor a week ago.
Gov. Bryan Jr. had stated during his campaigns that he supported the legalization of medical cannabis, so putting his signature on the bill was a foregone conclusion as long as the bill passed on the floor of the Legislature. The Governor was also aware of the economic benefits that would accrue once medical cannabis is legalized.
The Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act states that patients need to get a recommendation from a doctor before consuming medical cannabis. The law also establishes the Office of Cannabis Regulation, the agency that will be charged with licensing and overseeing the medical cannabis industry.
The patients who reside in the Virgin Islands will be allowed to have up to four ounces of marijuana flower while those who aren’t residents will have a possession limit of three ounces. The Office of Cannabis Regulation will set the limits for the other cannabis products in due course.
The law also listed a number of health conditions for which patients can get a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis. These include neuropathic pain, diabetes, traumatic brain injury, HIV/AIDS, ulcerative colitis, muscle spasms, PTSD and so many others.
Medical marijuana advocates applauded the action taken by the Legislature and Gov. Bryan in passing this vital law. Patients who badly need alternative remedies for their conditions will soon access marijuana legally within the Virgin Islands.
It is expected that draft rules for the medical cannabis industry will be in place within four months after the enactment of the Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act.
What is left is for the regulations to be made so that industry players can start getting ready to cultivate, manufacture and distribute medical cannabis to the licensed dispensaries. It is hoped that this next phase will not drag out in the same way that passing the law did after the referendum of 2014. Supreme Cannabis Company Inc. (TSX.V: FIRE) (OTCQX: SPRWF) and others wish the U.S. Virgin Islands a speedy implementation of their medical cannabis program.
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