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U.S. Virgin Islands Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis

The signing ceremony for Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. signed the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act Act 8680, declaring that any person convicted of simple marijuana possession can apply for a pardon.

“From the beginning of the Bryan-Roach Administration, we have worked towards the legalization of the adult use of cannabis, and today, with the hard work of the members of the 34th Legislature and prior Legislatures and the efforts of my team, we are finally here and finally signing into law the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act,” Bryan said in a press release. “This Act incorporates key aspects of my original proposal, such as one streamlined regulatory scheme for both medicinal and adult use, enforcement powers for the Office of Cannabis Regulation, entrepreneurship and job opportunities for Virgin Islands residents, and the creation of a revenue stream to help fund critical Government initiatives and operations.”

A law permits adults aged 21 and over to own up to 2 ounces of marijuana, 14 grams concentrates, as well as one ounce each of edibles, ointments or tinctures. The law also requires the creation of an Office of Cannabis Regulation. It includes restrictions on permits and business licenses, allowances to those who use cannabis for sacrament and direction for funds from cannabis tax to support community programs.

Bryan spoke at the ceremony about his November trip to Colorado with several other lawmakers in order to experience firsthand what it is like to be a part of the growing cannabis industry. “By traveling to Denver and meeting and speaking with individuals involved in all aspects of the industry from regulators, to law enforcement officers, to cultivators, manufacturers and dispensary owners, it is my hope that the individuals involved with the roll-out of this industry have learned best practices and what to avoid as we work to create this industry in the Virgin Islands,” Bryan continued.

He also addressed President Joe Biden’s announcement from October 2022 regarding expungement for citizens who were convicted of simple cannabis possession. “Today, I proclaim that all criminal convictions for the simple possession of marijuana under the Virgin Islands Code are fully and completely pardoned,” Bryan announced. “My office estimates that approximately 300 individuals have been convicted of the simple possession of marijuana in the last 20 years.”

A pardon may be granted by the Depart of Justice to anyone convicted of simply possessing cannabis in the U.S. Virgin Islands. For anyone convicted for up to 2 ounces cannabis possession, the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act or the Expungement Act will automatically extinguish their records. Bryan suggests that applicants apply to have the best chance of having their expungement granted. “Don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you, go out and grab them,” he said.

It took the U.S. Virgin Islands some time to set up both an adult-use and medical program, just like many other states. While residents voted to legalize medical cannabis in 2014, it wasn’t until 2019 that Bryan signed the act into law. Draft rules for the territory’s medical cannabis program were published in August 2022.

Act 8680 was passed by the U.S. Virgin Islands Senate in a 11-0 vote, on Dec. 30, 2022. The bill made its way to Bryan’s desk on Jan. 9, allowing him 10 days to make a decision to sign the bill, veto it, or to let it take effect without his signature. Bryan signed the bill one day prior to the deadline.