Nelson Reintroduces Medical Marijuana Bill

Sen. Positive Nelson (Photo by Barry Leerdam, provided by the V.I. Legislature)
Sen. Positive Nelson (Photo by Barry Leerdam, provided by the V.I. Legislature)

The prudish observer might think that the U.S. Virgin Islands is trying to sin its way to prosperity. Earlier this year the Legislature and the governor moved forward with the so-called sin taxes and now Sen. Positive Nelson, in his persistent effort to reform marijuana laws, has reintroduced the Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act.

In a news release, Nelson said he is fulfilling his obligation to the people of the Virgin Islands who supported the November 2014 ballot initiative to allow for the legalization of medical cannabis in the Virgin Islands.

Nelson told the Source Saturday that he has been fighting the battle for more than six years; a bill similar to the this one died in committee last year. Although, the objection to marijuana reform has apparently been in the minority, it has been intense.

“I’m requesting that this measure be heard by the committee of the whole, and not the Health Committee, whose chair has exhibited an obvious bias against cannabis legalization in any form,” Nelson told the Source.

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Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly chairs the Committee on Health, Hospitals, and Human Services.

The bill has amendments to clarify legitimate concerns raised earlier, Nelson said.

One of the most vocal opponents to the earlier versions was V.I. Attorney General Claude Walker. Walker said that legalization “will be a complete and total disaster for the children of the Virgin Islands and potentially wipe out an entire generation due to marijuana use.” He added that the the bill would mean doctors could smoke immediately before operating on you and pilots could smoke immediately before flying.

“The new measure has been reviewed by policy advisors, industry leaders and others to ensure that we have a solid and comprehensive product,” Nelson said in his press release.

“The overall goal of the Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act proposal is to allow patients access to the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and for their medical treatments,” Nelson added.

Nelson told the Source this is just one step in his battle for marijuana reform.

“Besides legalization for medicinal purposes, I support an allowance of five plants per each adult 21 years of age or older, so long as they are properly enclosed and own the property or have landlords approval,” Nelson wrote in an email. “I also support commercial legalization for adult use, 420 zones, and cannabis festivals. We’ll take it one step at a time.”

In 2014, V.I. voters approved by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin a referendum asking the legislature to consider legalizing medical marijuana.

Nelson appears confident that this time around the bill will pass.

“There should be enough support in the Senate, even if amended. This is the people’s will,” he said.

Nelson is making himself available to make presentations to groups and organizations.

“It’s time people understand cannabis economics and why raids on local cultivation hurt our economy,” he said.

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