The local cultivation and sale of medical marijuana, in addition to legislative agenda for the development of the Virgin Islands in a green economy, were highlights of today's November 14, 2019, "Speech from the Throne,' delivered by His Excellency, Mr Augustus J. U. Jaspert when the First Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) convened at its chambers in Road Town, Tortola.
In the highly anticipated speech made on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II and the Government of the United Kingdom; Governer Jaspert laid down the gauntlet for the Premier Andrew A. Fahie Government and HoA Legislators to tackle a series of legislations to accelerate the growth of the economy.
With an overall theme of 'Going Green, Going Smart', Mr Jaspert said mobilising and attracting foreign investments to enhance economic development, grow entrepreneurship and reduce unemployment will come through a proposed BVI Investment Bill with more legislation for tourism.
Green State Agenda
Through a proposed Archives and Records Management Department, the Governor underscored that preservation of local historical files will also be a part of the green agenda.
Further, he said that a suite of electronic legislation will be pushed to support the digital transformation of the public service, and to improve E-payments systems for customers.
"An integral part of going green, going smart will be realised through proposed amendments to the customs management and duties act. The objective is to encourage investments in green smart products," he said.
Governor Jaspert noted that those amendments will also help to position the territory as the sailing capital of the world and will call for the introduction of maritime legislation to cover various aspects of the industry, given the territory will soon be audited by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
All maritime legislation has an overall goal for the sustainable use of the sea under the Green State Agenda and will also cover agriculture and fishing.
Green building strategies will also be implemented as highlighted by Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) in previous speeches.
Health & Medical Marijuana
In a surprise announcement, Government Jaspert highlighted that as part of the green agenda, legislation will be pushed for the production and sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
"Through legislation, there will be an increase in the economic resilience of the territory among many other positive medicinal benefits," he said.
Laws will also be amended to govern the use of tobacco products in accordance with international laws.
This he said will, "Protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke."
More legislation will also be pushed for health and cancer control in the territory with an overall goal to improve the quality of life for Virgin Islanders.
Gaming & Gambling
Additionally, Governor Jaspert said the Government will put forward legislation to regulate the gaming and betting industry.
He said this will come "To provide for the establishment for the Gambling, Gaming and Betting Control Commission," which will establish a licencing framework to prevent criminal activities.
"The gaming and betting industry will, among other areas, cover sectors such as horse racing and the cruise industry."
According to the Governor, regulating the area will encourage revenues and provide local employment.