British Virgin Islands

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Under pressure Governor to assent to Cannabis Licensing Act

Embattled outgoing Governor of the Virgin Islands (VI), H.E. Augustus J.U. Jaspert has bowed to pressure regarding the hold-up of the marijuana legislation in the Virgin Islands, and will now move ahead with the assent of the bill.

Passed since July 2020 in the House of Assembly (HoA), the major Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, had been with the governor for several months awaiting assent.

UK had to Cross-Examine bill - Governor Jaspert claims


Now, according to Governor Jaspert, in a December 10, 2020, statement, the holdup was as a result of cross-examination and ‘line by line’ scrutiny in the UK to ensure both bills were in compliance with international laws.

Due to the hold-up, the Governor had faced heavy backlash from both community members and the government, for stalling the startup of the VI’s medical marijuana industry and its adverse effects on job creation.

"I regret that the consideration of these bills has taken some time, but I am grateful to the Premier, Members of the House of Assembly and the people of BVI for their patience,” the Governor said.

Mr Jaspert continued, “As I hope all can appreciate, it is incredibly important to get this right and ensure that BVI remains compliant with international law. I am pleased that we are now at a point where we can move forward, I hope positively, on these bills,” he said.

With the Governor given the go-ahead to assent the bill, it could be a matter of days or even hours before it becomes law.

VI Licencing authority to be established


For the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020, he said the VI would have to collaborate with the UK to establish a licencing authority for cannabis in the VI, as that responsibility is currently vested in the Home office.

“For this to happen, BVI and the Home Office need to work together to take preliminary steps to transfer the authority and enter into a Memorandum of Understanding, which is a binding agreement between the two Governments.”

Meanwhile, regarding the holdup of another bill, the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Act 2020, Governor Jaspert said, the UK Foreign Secretary wants to give further consideration to this bill to explore the possible effects of decriminalising the possession of a recreational drug and thereby potentially increasing its trade– at this time.

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