On Tuesday, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. resubmitted to the 33rd Legislature an amended version of his proposed Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act, which amends Title 19, Chapter 34 of the V.I. Code, also known as the Virgin Islands Medicinal Cannabis Patient Care Act.
“This Administration has conducted a series of listening discussions with multiple senators and the general public to provide explanatory information and to receive input for further revisions to the proposed bill,” the governor wrote in his transmittal letter to Senate President Novelle Francis Jr.
The proposed legislation Bryan submitted on Tuesday, May 19, incorporates the product of collaboration and input from those multiple senators who came forward and comments received from the public in town hall meetings.
During his COVID-19 press briefing on Monday, May 18, Bryan urged the 33rd Legislature to act expeditiously on his proposed legislation as it is a key revenue funding source to shore up the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS), which reiterated what he said in his transmittal letter.
Under the governor’s proposed cannabis legislation, 75 percent of all revenues from cannabis taxes and licensing fees will be directed toward the GERS.
“Consideration of this proposed bill is exigent given that the principal benefit of the revenues derived from this bill are directed to assisting the stoppage of the hemorrhaging of the Government Employees Retirement System,” Gov. Bryan wrote in the letter. “I once again state that this bill will not solve the GERS financial status; rather, it is one of the tools, and we must continue to work together to find other means to shore up the system.
“It is also important that we utilize the present time while we are putting our economy back together in readiness for the post-COVID pandemic environment, to put this revenue mechanism in place,” the Governor wrote.
One of Governor Bryan’s first actions upon being sworn into office in January 2019 was to sign into law Act No. 8167, the Virgin Islands Medicinal Cannabis Patient Care Act.
On Dec. 2, 2019, Governor Bryan submitted to the 33rd Legislature the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act, an amended version of Act 8167 that widened its scope; however, senators and members of the public raised a number of questions about the proposed legislation.
The Bryan/Roach Administration conducted town hall meetings and met with various senators to take input that is incorporated into the amended version of the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act that Bryan then resubmitted to the 33rd Legislature on Tuesday.