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US Virgin Islands Governor Signs Recreational Cannabis Legalization Bill

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Jan 23, 2023   
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The governor of the US Virgin Islands has signed a bill that would legalize the use of recreational cannabis on the US territory.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. signed the bill on Wednesday, January 18.

It’s not known how quickly legalization will come into effect, but, according to one government official on the islands, the law could take between 18 and 24 months to implement.

New legal territory

The territory’s government claims the bill will provide economic opportunities for Virgin Islanders and create additional revenue for the territory.

“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,” Governor Bryan said in a statement.

“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.”

Bryan’s government has also prioritized pardons and expungements for those with prior convictions of cannabis possession. Individuals who have been convicted of the simple possession of (over two ounces of) marijuana have been told to contact the islands’ Department of Justice to obtain a pardon application. Those convicted of simple possession of up to two ounces will have their conviction automatically expunged under the new bill.

The policies of Bryan’s bill were partly informed through observation of other US areas with legal cannabis access, such as Colorado.

“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 added.


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