The V.I. Cannabis Advisory Board is drafting rules and regulations for medical marijuana in the territory and looking for an executive director before setting a timeline for creating the framework for its operation, members told the public in a virtual town hall on Friday.
All six current members of the board took part in the event on Zoom: 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 Chris Jones.
Asked for a timeline on when a request for proposal for hiring cannabis technicians, Tricoche replied, “We do not have a specific timeline. We are working on building that framework in addition to getting the executive director hired, as it is a part of his or her duties.”
The board posted the executive director position on Monday. Applicants can email their applications to Tricoche at Miguel.Tricoche@vi.gov.
If one is not hired soon the board will continue to move on through the process, Tricoche said, although the best-case scenario would be that the board will hire an executive director who will start the process of publicly sharing who is bidding and what they are bidding on.
Once draft rules and regulations are ready, the board will have a forum for the public to review and look over the drafts. The public will then have 30 to 60 days to respond. The rules will also have to go through the federal government for review.
Tricoche said the goal is to benefit the people of the Virgin Islands and, though he would like for the industry and technology to be local, it is open to everyone.
“We are aiming for it to be as much local as it can possibly be. We are certainly encouraging local technology companies, when the process starts, to apply and to get their voices heard. This will then give us, the board, the opportunity to vet who is the best candidate whether it is local or international.”
Nelson outlined the range of businesses that might become involved.
“Some examples of types of businesses that the board will be reviewing will be in the area of a growing industry, manufacturing like oils or edibles or you can have a dispensary and a lounge,” he said.
The board wants applicants to be legitimate companies because it is in the medical field.
“Before any prescriptions can be written, we actually have to have the physicians on board. This means they need to be certified and qualified to administer the proper dosage, side effects, potential toxicities, etc. Prior to talking about the business end, we need to get the physicians up onboard and qualified,” Kean said.
Several courses that are mostly online will be presented to the physicians in the territory with directions to the certification process.
“We are also thinking about the physicians, they are in fact the individuals that will need to prescribe the prescriptions before individuals go out to the dispensary,” he said. “This is not recreational so individuals cannot at this point in time walk in off of the street.”
Nelson said that every dispensary is required to have a medical consultant on its team. The consultants do not need to physically be in the dispensary selling products, but they need to be a part of their team. Individuals working for the dispensary will also need some type of certification at the cost of the business owner, the board members explained.
Although the board is still able to function with six members, it is also seeking a pharmacist, a representative from the University of the Virgin Islands, a person knowledgeable in the field of naturopathic medicine, an economist or finance expert and a farmer.
The video of Friday’s virtual town hall is available on Facebook.