Virgin Islands Senate Committee Votes Unanimously to Legalize Hemp

virginislandsThe U.S. Virgin Island Senate Committee of Economic Development, Agriculture and Planning has voted unanimously to pass a bill that would legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.

The proposal, sponsored by Senator Terrence Nelson, would define hemp as having 0.3% THC or less, and would establish a licensing system for those wanting to cultivate the crop. The bill has been moved to the Senate Rules Committee, where its passage will set it up for a full Senate vote.

According to a summary of the bill by the Virgin Island Daily News, it would:

– Sets up application requirements and a process for those who want to grow industrial hemp commercially, which would include farm licensing through the V.I. Agriculture Department and business licensing through the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.

– Requires the Agriculture commissioner to promulgate regulations surrounding the growing, production and sale of industrial hemp; as well as testing of industrial hemp for levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana; and a fee structure.

– Sets out affirmative legal defenses if hemp producers are charged criminally while engaged in activities authorized by the bill.

– Sets out various types of research and studies that Agriculture and the University of the Virgin Islands would conduct related to industrial hemp and its production.

– Establishes a nine-member V.I. Industrial Hemp Commission within the Agriculture Department that would develop policy and practice recommendations to the governor and Legislature related to industrial hemp production to ensure “proper legal growing,” management, use and marketing of the industrial hemp industry in the territory.

– Appropriates $75,000 from the General Fund to the commission.

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