The BVI’s governor should have shared his concerns about the Cannabis Licensing Act before it was allowed to pass in the House of Assembly (HOA).
This was the view shared by Premier Andrew Fahie at a recent appearance before members of the media.
The BVI’s former governor, Augustus Jaspert, declined to offer assent to the Act last year, citing concerns about the absence of a marijuana licensing body. Thereafter, Jaspert sent the bill to the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). This was a feat that the Premier described as unprecedented in the BVI’s political history.
“It’s a lot of work done to get a bill done and to reach to a level and not [have the bill] assented to,” the Premier shared.
According to Fahie, bills usually see many discussions involving various departments. He said they require a Cabinet paper and a Cabinet sitting before being read and debated in the House of Assembly. He said all these processes happen before any legislation ever gets to a governor for final assent.
The Premier said there are also many public consultations involved in helping to shape a piece of legislation before it passes in the House.
“It takes some wind out of you sometimes when you reach to that level after all that and the public consultations – and then have it not assented to for something that was never mentioned to you in all of those processes along the way,” Premier Fahie said.
“Somebody could have said something if it was concerning them,” he added.
Licensing provision was already in the bill
But the Premier said the overriding concern that has stymied the bill thus far – a licensing body – was already taken into account and provisions were made for this in the legislation.
“One of the areas that we were concerned about with that is that one of the bills does have inside of the bill, to create a licensing body,” the Premier said.
He noted that the previous governor was also consulted on the bill before its passage and requests were made of him for any likely amendments.
Furthermore, the Premier claimed that when concerns were raised at the time of its drafting, the Attorney General at the time, Baba Aziz, said that there were no issues of conflict that arose.
The Premier described the issue as a challenge that his administration did not anticipate but said they will work with the UK in whatever areas are needed so the bill can be enacted.
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