V.I. Cannabis Board Approves Rules and Regulations for Cannabis Industry

The V.I. Cannabis Advisory Board (VICAB) has approved the final draft of the rules and regulations for the cannabis industry in the territory, following the legalization of cannabis for medical and adult use in 2022. The rules and regulations, which are based on Act 8680, define the structure, functions, and requirements of the Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR), the Cannabis Licensing Board (CLB), and the Cannabis Business Licensing Program (CBLP). The rules and regulations also set the standards and criteria for the cultivation, processing, testing, distribution, sale, and consumption of cannabis and its products.

Act 8680, also known as the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act, was signed into law by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on January 18, 2023, after being approved by the voters in November 2022. The act allows for the legal use of cannabis for medicinal, sacramental, and adult purposes, and also regulates the production, distribution, and use of cannabis. The act also provides additional economic opportunities for Virgin Islanders and creates additional revenue for the Government of the Virgin Islands.

The act mandates the establishment of the OCR, the CLB, and the CBLP, and gives them the authority and responsibility to implement and enforce the act. The act also requires the OCR to draft the rules and regulations for the cannabis industry, in consultation with the VICAB and the public. The act also sets the tax rates and fees for the cannabis industry, and allocates the revenue for various purposes, such as education, health, agriculture, and social services.

Rules and Regulations Approved by VICAB

The OCR submitted the proposed rules and regulations to the VICAB on January 19, 2023, after holding several public hearings and receiving feedback from various stakeholders, such as patients, practitioners, sacramental users, business owners, and advocates. The VICAB reviewed and revised the rules and regulations, and approved the final draft on February 14, 2023.

The rules and regulations, which consist of 66 pages, cover the following topics:

  • The structure, functions, and powers of the OCR, the CLB, and the CBLP, and their roles and responsibilities in regulating the cannabis industry.
  • The application and licensing process for cannabis businesses, such as cultivators, processors, testers, distributors, retailers, and delivery services, and the requirements and criteria for obtaining and maintaining a cannabis business license.
  • The operational and security standards and best practices for cannabis businesses, such as record keeping, inventory control, packaging, labelling, testing, and waste disposal.
  • The health and safety standards and guidelines for cannabis products, such as potency, purity, quality, and dosage, and the testing and certification procedures and protocols for cannabis products.
  • The consumer protection and education standards and programs for cannabis consumers, such as age verification, identification, purchase limits, and public awareness campaigns.
  • The taxation and fee structure and collection system for the cannabis industry, and the allocation and distribution of the cannabis revenue fund.
  • The enforcement and compliance mechanisms and penalties for the cannabis industry, such as inspections, audits, investigations, sanctions, and appeals.

Rules and Regulations Await Final Approval by Governor

The rules and regulations are not yet effective, and they still need to be approved by the Governor and the Department of Justice, before being published in the official gazette. The OCR expects to complete the approval process by the end of 2023, and to launch the cannabis industry by the summer of 2024.

The OCR also plans to conduct more public outreach and education activities, such as town hall meetings, webinars, and workshops, to inform and engage the public about the rules and regulations and the cannabis industry. The OCR also invites the public to visit its website and social media platforms, where they can find more information and resources about the cannabis industry.

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