Outgoing US Virgin Islands Governor Ignores Medicinal Cannabis Bill

Kenneth Mapp vacated the office of Governor of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) yesterday, but not before signing a group of bills into law and issuing one veto on his way out.

A bill to provide free tuition to a portion of University of the Virgin Islands students was among the seventeen bills signed by Mapp, but the now-former governor chose not to add his signature to Bill 32-0135; medicinal cannabis legislation that the Senate approved on December 28.

But while Mapp did not sign the bill into law, it may still have a chance under new pro-cannabis governor Albert Bryan who was sworn in on January 7. According to federal law, the governor has ten days to sign legislation after the Senate approves it, which would make Tuesday, January 8 the deadline.

Because the legislature is currently in recess, and the bill cannot be returned to them in their absence, federal law states that “it shall be a law if signed by the governor within thirty days after it shall have been presented to him; otherwise it shall not become law.”

With the extra time and the new governor’s cannabis-friendly leanings, medical marijuana may soon be a reality for the USVI.

“My support is based on the proven health benefits in the relief of pain and treatment of symptoms for many serious ailments including cancer,” Bryan told the St Thomas Source in October. “Conventional medical treatment for these ailments is often expensive and/or results in severe side effects. Medicinal cannabis may also be a preferable alternative to opioids for management of pain in some instances.”

If the bill becomes law, qualified card-holding patients will be allowed to grow up to twelve cannabis plants and possess up to four ounces of flower. Nonresident patients would be allowed to possess up to three ounces.