The government’s Cannabis Licensing Act has been stalled until the current BVI/UK talks on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report, and the implementation of its myriad recommendations, have been concluded favourably.
This was the indication given by Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley when he met with the media at a recent press briefing.
“None of those talks have moved forward until we come to an agreement with the United Kingdom as it pertains to our proposal because, of course, if the constitution is partially suspended, I will no longer be in a position to negotiate,” Premier Wheatley stated.
He said the only way that the BVI‘s leaders will be able to continue with discussions regarding the Cannabis Licensing Act, is if there is a confirmation that the BVI will continue to have “a democratic framework“ in place.
“As soon as we get that confirmation, God willing, we can return to the talks about getting assent to that piece of legislation,” said Premier Wheatley who still has primary portfolio responsibility for agriculture.
The Premier further stated that he believes there is “potential” for the legislation once it has been agreed upon and assented.
After being passed in the House Assembly nearly two years ago, the bill was sent to former Governor Augustus Jaspert for assent but was instead sent to the UK‘s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for further discussions by the then-governor.
Jaspert had argued that necessary safeguards such as a licensing body, were not in place to properly administer the sector once the law had been passed.
At the time, former Premier Andrew Fahie
called the move by the UK-appointed Governor “unprecedented”; arguing that it was a first in the BVI‘s political history.
Working groups had later been set up to attempt to resolve the impasse and arrive at a possible solution for assent of the legislation.