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Draft bill on legalising marijuana in BVI being reviewed — Wheatley

“There is actually a draft bill on the legalization of marijuana that I am currently reviewing” — Agriculture Minister, Dr Natalio Wheatley.

A preliminary piece of legislation has been developed to start the process of relaxing marijuana laws in the British Virgin Islands.

Agriculture Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley made the announcement while speaking at the second annual Hemp Fest on the sister island of Jost Van Dyke on Saturday, July 13.

He said: “Even before this current administration led by Premier Andrew Fahie, there was a discussion about cannabis. Perhaps it was a little quieter discussion but … there is actually a draft bill on the legalization of marijuana that I am currently reviewing. It was done by the last administration,” the minister said.

Community discussions coming

Dr Wheatley said extensive discussions will need to be had about the drug, whose main component is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the psychoactive part of the plant that gives users what they recognise as a ‘high’.

“Discussion about protecting children, discussions about operating heavy machinery and driving, and having a discussion about the proper regulation of marijuana [must be had] because we don’t believe this thing should be a free-for-all,” Dr Wheatley stated.

“We certainly know that marijuana, which contains THC, has an impact on your disposition. It has an impact on you being able to complete certain tasks. So, we don’t want to fool everyone into thinking that we think persons should be up and down smoking marijuana through the streets without any sort of regulation.”

He said residents can expect community meetings to be held in the near future.

“If the population of the Virgin Islands, as I believe it to be, is ready for the legalization of marijuana, then we have to have a discussion about how we’re going to do it,” he reasoned.

Imprisoning persons for simple possession is wrong

Dr Wheatley also described the matter of imprisoning persons for possession of small quantities of cannabis as unjust.

He said these kinds of events will be a thing of the past once the legislation is hashed and implemented.

“We will decriminalize marijuana on that level. Persons will no longer be incarcerated for the possession and consumption of something that is recognized to be a lot less detrimental to your health. In fact, we’re speaking about the medicinal value of it than something like alcohol. It’s proven that alcohol is much more damaging to your health than marijuana.”

BVI as a model

The legislator also said that the BVI can be used as an example to the world about the responsible legalization and the responsible administering of the marijuana industry, once the entire process is finalized.

“We certainly support having a well-regulated industry and the fact that we’re coming in late into this whole discussion of marijuana means that we don’t have to repeat the mistakes that some of our brothers and sisters made in other places.”

Courageous move

Meanwhile, Positive Nelson, who is currently the Commissioner of Agriculture in the US Virgin Islands where medical marijuana is legal, commended Minister Wheatley for his courageous move in tackling the issue while still fresh in office.

“I told you already it is not easy to stand up for cannabis. I still have some scars on my back relative to the push in the Virgin Islands (US). Here in the British Virgin Islands, you are talking about legalization and I want for local leaders here to continue to be brave enough to move forward. Yes, there is going to be pushbacks. But, the truth in the matter is this: the truth is on your side. The truth is on our side,” said Nelson who is also a former senator of 14 years before opting to switch his role in government.

Commissioner of Agriculture in the neighbouring USVI, Positive Nelson.

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13 Comments

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  1. Truth says:

    Once done correctly the BVI can make major revenues from this initiative.

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  2. Best Way? says:

    Have a referendum for legalization. If referendum for legalization results are in the negative, then consider what to do for those that are using it of their own free will.

    Locking up people who use it for their personal use should stop. Locking up people for commercial profiteering – yes. Anyone can grow It for their own use. Set a limit on the amount in possession for personal use.

    The overall effect on society should be taken into account. This Territory is small. What social and economic woes may result?

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  3. Prostitution says:

    Prostitution should be legalized as well. It’s a nice compliment to legal marijuana. This way the Territory can bring in lots of tourism. The Territory will be know as party central and will attract people from around the globe. The Belongers can continue to sell the illegal hard drugs and once again the Belongers will be able to sit under the trees and not have to work. All will be happy!!

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  4. strupes says:

    The BVI dragging its feet..Taking too doggone long..Our neighbors USVI, St.Vincent and others done jumped ahead on the bandwagon..By the time we done pussy foot, other countries will be way ahead of us

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  5. well sah says:

    Whenever yo look it will be a bunch ah baldheads and white folks who will be getting the licenses to grow medical marijuana locally. The rastas who been going jail for years for ganja aint goin get ah thing

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  6. oh boy says:

    JOST VAN DYKES used to grow some of the best weed back in the 80’s and 90’s, wha went wrong????

  7. Anonymous says:

    The marijuana industry is thriving in the BVI and across the globe, but the BVI, its government and people are not benefitting as they should.

    Moreover, there is a vast industry right here in Territory from seeds, to natural grown plants to medicinal oils to vape, all ran by and benfitting whealthy outsiders.

    The government needs to become proactive and take full control of that trillion dollar industry.

    What are the differences between, economic tangible benefits and a ghost in the sky, common sense and a moral imperative relative to a trillion dollar leaf industry?

    Stands to reason, the legislation must gaurantee 90% pro government financial benefits, and not the rich expat with huge land mass and investment capital.

    Blindly and on one hand, the local is advocating legalization for small time personal use and decriminalization thereof.

    On the other, the other chap, through dirtect contact with law makers are seeking to bring legal status to his already exisiting billion dollar business.

    Who know know, and who don’t will remain ignorant.

    This is a good economic initiative for the Territory if governmet and people stands to benefit at least 80% or more from the proceeds. If below, h**l no!

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  8. Jane says:

    Prohibition of marijuana is a racist construct to criminalise people of colour. Today, people of colour are still disproportionately penalised and punished. Now Big Pharma would like to keep it criminal so that they can continue to peddle their chemical solutions. You cannot criminalise a plant. Its time for the BVI government to legalise marijuana through a controlled licensing system.

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