New members of the V.I. Cannabis Advisory Board were introduced via Zoom on Thursday. They include newly appointed Chairman Miguel Tricoche, Assistant Commissioner of Health Dr. Nicole Craigwell-Syms, Dr. Catherine Kean, Dr. Gary Jett, Commissioner of Agriculture Positive T.A. Nelson and small business owner Chris Jones. The recent reappointment of Tricoche comes after legislative action that dismantled the board.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Janelle Sarauw rearranged the board to require it have one farmer, one economist, an expert in cannabis technology, three health care practitioners (one must be a pharmacist), a representative from the University of the Virgin Islands, a representative of the Department of Health, a member from the Department of Agriculture, a person in the field of naturopathic medicine and a disability advocate.
The board is still missing experts in the positions of pharmacist, economist or finance expert and farmer. Tricoche encouraged interested experts to apply for the positions by reaching out to Government House.
The board is also seeking to fill the positions of executive director and assistant director. Tricoche encouraged interested individuals to apply once the position is posted. More details regarding the qualifications needed to fill these positions are expected to be released soon. “We are going to post as quickly as possible and vet as soon as possible,” Kean said.
The approved budget for the board includes $250,000 for cannabis software and $500,000 for the Office of Cannabis Regulation. Some of that will be directed toward the hiring of the executive director and assistant director.
Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Richard Evangelista said space on St. Croix has already been identified for the Cannabis office and space on St. Thomas is being searched for.
Board members said the board is not at the point of accepting applications for companies interested in applying for the distribution of medical marijuana. However, the designing of the website has begun. “We are still working on a website for the public to see. It should be ready no later than March,” said Tricoche. “At least we will have a page for the Department of Cannabis for the community to see.”
Regarding the website, Kean said, “I think we should begin the process. We want the executive director to be fluent in whatever technology.”
The goal of the board is to get enough physicians on board so that when the bill rolls out patients know how to apply. Patients will be able to submit their application and may also be able to grow their own medication with policies established by the Cannabis Advisory Board.
“The use of marijuana does have an effect on individuals. There has to be a level of mental and behavioral health,” Craigwell-Syms said.
All eligible companies with employees in a cannabis dispensary will also have to be certified.
A virtual town hall for the public to ask questions will take place on Feb. 5, via Zoom, at 5:30 p.m.
To join the Zoom meeting follow this link.
Meeting ID: 823 6081 7578
To join the Zoom meeting via telephone dial:
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
Meeting ID: 823 6081 7578