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Governor refuses to give details on hold-up of Marijuana Bill

Governor refuses to give details on hold-up of Marijuana Bill

Controversial outgoing Governor of the Virgin Islands, Mr Augustus J.U. Jaspert aka 'Gus' has blamed bureaucracy for the hold up of bills not yet assented, while dodging questions on the exact reasons for his refusal to make the Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, into law.

Passed since July 2020 by the democratically elected members of the Virgin Islands House of Assembly (HoA), the Cannabis Act has now been with the Governor for several months awaiting assent.

Marijuana bill being considered - Governor Jaspert


An important aspect of the bill is that it essentially paves the way for the territory to establish a new medicinal marijuana industry, one that must be backed by legislation.

Two other pieces of legislation in the hold-up, is the Advance Passenger Information Act, 2020, passed in June and the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act, 2020, passed in July of 2020.

“On the marijuana one, that is something that I am considering very carefully as you would expect and would also understand anything that I am discussing, I'll do first to Cabinet prior to here,” the Governor said when questioned on the reasons for the holdup at a press conference held Friday, December 2, 2020.


An important aspect of the bill is that it essentially paves the way for the territory to establish a new medicinal marijuana industry, one that must be backed by legislation.

Governor dodging questions


However, when questioned again on the specific holdup of the marijuana bill, the Governor provided a vague answer, while ultimately dodging the question.

“On those bills, these are important bills. It's important we consider them properly and it's important that... I consider them fully before giving assent, that’s something I’m doing and then you'll respect that any conversations I have will be with the Premier and with Cabinet.”

According to Governor Jaspert, the bills are new and it is justified that he should get the opportunity to consider them fully and raise issues with Government and the Cabinet before anything is brought to the public.


Meanwhile, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie  has since said the Governor’s hold up has become an costly not only for VI’s economy but the people the industry would have employed.

Economy losing money - Premier Fahie


Meanwhile, Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon Andrew A. Fahie (R1) had months ago said the Governor’s hold-up is now costing the VI’s economy and impacting job creation that should have emerged from the medical marijuana industry.

“It's holding back our economy and also putting our economy under strain in an era that it should not have been, because more revenue should have been coming into the economy from before if this was assented to,” Premier Fahie said in an interview with 284 Media on Friday, October 9, 2020.

The issue has further heightened calls for a new round of constitutional review in the Virgin Islands, one that could limit the powers of the Governor over decision already approved by the House of Assembly through the legislative process.



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