Bills which would legalize the production of industrial hemp and the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes will be considered on Monday and Tuesday, August 13 and 14, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Senator Terrance “Positive” Nelson, the first and only Rastafarian senator in the Virgin Islands, is bringing the bills forward. Senator Nelson has vowed to bring marijuana legislation before the Senate, and has other senators who have publicly supported him and these bills for ballot referendums.
Senator Nelson has also said publicly that he is working on a marijuana decriminalization bill that will be presented before the end of this Senate session. Toke of the Town has seen a draft of the as yet unnumbered bill, which is not yet final.
According to Linda Adler of USVI NORML, this year’s decrim bill is much better than the one introduced last year.
|The U.S. Virgin Islands are to the left; the British Virgin Islands are to the right.
“This one will be a battle, but if armed with enough facts and specific information on how this will impact the Territory’s financial crisis and reduce the effects and costs of keeping it criminalized, he stands a chance,” Adler told Toke of the Town Friday morning.
One hearing will be held on St. Thomas and the other on St. Croix, so that residents on each island will have a chance to testify and attend. Each hearing will cover both the medical marijuana bill (29-0349 [pdf]
) and the industrial hemp bill (29-0350 [pdf]
), according to Ronald E. Russell, president of the USVI 29th Legislature.
Monday’s hearing will be at 6 p.m. at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas. Tuesday’s hearing will be at 6 p.m. in the Frits W. Laweatz Conference Room, St. Croix.
The official Bill Summary of the medical marijuana bill reads as follows: “This Resolution seeks to put a referendum on the ballot of the 2012 General Election posing the quesiton of the legal use of marijuana for medical purposes.”
The Bill Summary of the industrial hemp bill reads: “This Bill directs the Boards of Election to conduct a referendum on each island voting district to determine if a majority of the voting public is in favor of promoting the production, processing, manufacture and distribution of industrial hemp in the Virgin Islands. Subsection (a) of the Bill mandates a certain format to be used in conducting the referendum with a choice of a yes or a no. Subsection (b) sets time tables for the Boards to tally the votes and send to the Legislature the results of the referendum and whether a simple majority was attained.”