Legislation decriminalizing the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis in the United States Virgin Islands became law on Friday after the Senate voted unanimously to override Governor’s John P. DeJongh’s veto.
Under the new law – which was included as a provision in the territory’s 2015 budget, and line-item vetoed by Governor DeJongh – the possession of up to an ounce of cannabis is no longer an arrestable offense, but instead is a ticket of no more than $200. If someone under 18 is caught in possession of up to an ounce of cannabis, they’ll receive an $100 fine, their parents will be notified and they will be required to complete a drug awareness program. Under previous law, the possession of any amount of cannabis was a potential year-long prison sentence, in addition to a potential $5,000 fine.
Cannabis decriminalization “will go a long way in easing cost on the judicial system and judicial process,” says the provision’s sponsor, Senator Terrance Nelson.
The law took effect immediately following the Senate’s vote to override Governor DeJongh’s veto.