Speaker Concerned: Three Bills Including Cannabis Licensing Still With Governor
Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Julian Willock has expressed concern over three Bills that have not been assented to by His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert despite being passed in the House of Assembly months ago.
These Bills are the Advance Passenger Information Act, 2020, VI Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020 and the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act, 2020. Hon. Willock raised the issue during the First Sitting of the Third Session of the Fourth House of Assembly on Thursday, November 5.
He said: “Honourable Members, I must also bring to your attention once more, that we have three Bills still not assented to by the Governor, and I have still to be given a plausible reason from His Excellency, as to why.”
The Speaker added, “We have outstanding: the Advance Passenger Information Act, 2020, which was passed in the House on 16th June 2020. This Act was sent to the Governor’s Office on 1st July 2020. Also not assented to is; the VI Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, which was passed on 30th June 2020 and sent to Governor’s Office on 27th July 2020; and, the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act, 2020, which was passed on 2nd July 2020 and sent to Governor’s Office on 27th July 2020.”
The Advance Passenger and Information Act when it becomes law will put the territory up to par with CARICOM standards which makes it mandatory for aircrafts and boats coming or leaving the territory to submit information on crew and passengers before they arrive or leave.
The Bill, according to Minister for Natural Resources, Immigration and Labour Hon. Vincent Wheatley said the Bill would improve the border security of the territory and allow the Immigration Department to be at the ready for any threats, and it would also expedite passenger processing among other benefits.
As for the Cannabis Licensing Act, when it becomes law, it would lay the groundwork for the establishment of the controversial medical marijuana industry in the British Virgin Islands.
Among the government’s plan is to give roughly 100 locals a plot of land to grow the herb for medicinal uses that would then be processed and ready for sale.
The Drug Prevention & Misuse (Amendment) Act that is yet to be assented to, will, among other things, make it possible for persons who have been previously convicted of a cannabis-related offences to have their criminal records erased.