Medical Marijuana in the U.S. Virgin Islands
In 2018, Senator Positive T.A. Nelson sponsored the Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act in the hopes it would set up a robust medical marijuana program in the U.S. Virgin Islands for both qualified residents and medical tourists. On January 19th, 2019, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr., signed the Act into law allowing the U.S. Virgin Islands to join thirty-eight (38) states that have legalized medical marijuana in some form.
Under the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Medical Marijuana Act, the law permitted five (5) license types interested applicants can apply for. The majority of principal officers, board of directors, shareholders, or owners must be residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, having maintained such residence for two (2) years before submitting the application. Unfortunately for the patients of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the rules and regulations for the medical marijuana program were not promulgated until 2022 and have yet to see any application to acquire a medical marijuana card since then. Further, no individual or entity has been licensed to cultivate, process, or dispense medical marijuana to qualified patients due to the Governor taking years to determine who would be on the Cannabis Advisory Board.
To qualify, patients must have a qualifying medical condition and a written certification issued by a healthcare practitioner with whom they have a bona-fide relationship. Certifications can be signed by an MD, DO, naturopath, homeopath, chiropractor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner.
A “qualifying medical condition” is defined as cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, sever nausea, autism, any condition for which a practitioner would prescribe an opiate for pain, or any other conditions as certified in writing by a practitioner that in his/her professional opinion the potential benefits of medicinal marijuana would likely outweigh the health risks for the qualified patient.
Types of Medical Marijuana Business Licenses
- Level I (no more than 100 plants)
- Level II (no more than 500 plants)
- Level III (no more than 1,000 plants)
- Cannabis Product Manufacturer
- Research & Development
- Approved Vendor Certificate
Adult-Use Marijuana in the U.S. Virgin Islands
On January 18th, 2023, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr., signed the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act to expand the U.S. Virgin Islands’ cannabis market, and facilitate cannabis expungements in the territory. Under the Act, it legalizes the adult-use of marijuana for medicinal, sacramental, and other uses, as well as regulates production, distribution, and use of cannabis. Pursuant to the Act, the Cannabis Advisory Board has until July 2023 to finalize all regulations for the new adult-use program, so they can begin application licensing by late 2023/early 2024.
Under the Act, there are limitations to the number of licenses permitted on each island – St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix – with a competitive merit-based scoring process in place. Further, the Office of Cannabis Regulations is permitted to set limits on the number of plants allowed to be cultivated by licensees at a single time. To ensure applicants meet all regulatory requirements, they will need to ensure at the forefront that they can meet the strict residency requirements set forth for majority owners, as well as to ensure their entity is organized under the laws of the Virgin Islands. Although the Office of Cannabis Regulations has yet to announce their finalized regulations, many are hopeful that the roll out of the adult-use program will begin more efficiently in comparison to their medical program.
Types of Adult-Use Marijuana Business Licenses & Permits
- Research & Development
- Testing Facility
- Adult-Use Lounge Permit
- Cannabis Use Permit
- Cannabis Temporary Use Permit
- Onsite Cannabis Consumption Permit
- Micro-Cultivation Permit
Upcoming Applications for a Marijuana Business License in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The Office of Cannabis Regulations (“OCR”) is spearheading the licensing of all cultivation, product manufacturing, dispensary, and testing laboratory applicants. According to the Act, regulations must be finalized by July 2023, so they can begin application licensing by Late 2023/Early 2024.
Although the OCR has yet to release such regulations, below are a few of the regulatory requirements interested applicants will be required to meet to be one of the first marijuana businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands:
- Residency Requirements
- Criminal Background
- Security Measures
- Operating Plans
- Staff Training Plans
- Adequate Capital & Liquidity
- Charitable Contributions or Scholarships
- Tax Compliance & more
Now is the time to start working with a Team of experts to ensure your spot in the U.S. Virgin Island’s soon-to-be booming marijuana industry. Contact us today to discuss your options!
Last Updated: August 1st, 2023