The United Kingdom’s consultant has to this point declined to log off on a brand new law within the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to allow medical cannabis manufacturing and gross sales, inflicting an “unnecessary” delay in getting the medical marijuana trade up-and-running, based on the nation’s premier.
The democratically elected House of Assembly handed the Cannabis Licensing Act final June, which might open up the medical cannabis sector for industrial alternatives, together with cultivation, retail and manufacturing.
The governor’s stamp of approval – referred to as Royal Assent – is all that continues to be for the invoice to turn into law.
But Gov. Augustus Jaspert, who wields vital energy over the territory as the U.Okay.’s consultant, has up to now refused to present the pending law his stamp of approval.
And he’s not saying why.
Questions to the governor’s workplace have gone unanswered for weeks. Instead, Jaspert’s spokesperson offered a terse 3-month-old assertion to Marijuana Business Daily:
“The Governor is currently considering the bill and has yet to grant assent. By giving thorough consideration to the bill, the Governor is discharging his duties as set out in the constitution and as the people of BVI would expect.”
Pending legal guidelines usually obtain Royal Assent in a matter of days or even weeks.
Roy Bodden, former president of University College of the Cayman Islands, mentioned the governor – as the U.Okay. consultant – has the facility to delay, reject and introduce new laws if the parliaments within the territories refuse to behave based on the administering energy’s needs.
“This intervention by the United Kingdom to circumvent the local assembly/parliament is often referred to as the ‘nuclear option.’ It is used on those occasions where the local parliament is noncompliant with the administering power’s wishes,” he mentioned.
In this case, nonetheless, neither the U.Okay. nor the governor’s workplace has signaled why it is holding up the law, irritating the premier of the nation and native companies.
The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office referred queries from MJBizDaily to the governor.
British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie referred to as for an finish to “unnecessary and unsubstantiated delays” in establishing the archipelago’s medical marijuana trade.
The premier delivered the remarks within the House of Assembly as a part of the Budget Statement final month.
“We hope that there will be no more unnecessary and unsubstantiated delays in getting the BVI’s medical marijuana industry established so that our people can start benefiting from this new initiative,” Fahie said in the Assembly.
“Medical marijuana is a blooming industry worldwide and here, too, in the Caribbean. It has the potential to earn the territory millions of dollars in revenue and create jobs for our people.”
Courtney Betty, adviser to the premier and on the event of a medical cannabis trade and co-author of the invoice, mentioned the law is in keeping with related United Nations conventions.
“The delay by the governor in signing Royal Assent is preventing the BVI from developing an important industry which will help to advance the economic and social development of the BVI,” he informed MJBizDaily.
Betty mentioned the law attracts a strict line between medical use, which the invoice legalizes, and leisure use, which is able to stay unlawful.
“The framework also is designed to address the past injustices of individuals who have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of criminal records for possession of small amounts of cannabis.”
Governors extra assertive
Governors of British Overseas Territories within the Caribbean have been extra assertive in current months, flexing their constitutional authority over their respective jurisdictions.
In one case, the U.Okay. consultant imposed a law in opposition to the need of parliament; in one other, the U.Okay. consultant hit the brakes on a law.
Derek O’Brien, senior lecturer at Truman Bodden Law School in George Town, Cayman Islands, famous the related provision of the BVI Constitution, which offers with the governor’s obligations with regard to assent to laws.
The provision, s79 (2), lays out the circumstances through which a governor offers a law closing approval – or doesn’t.
Part of the availability says the governor could “reserve for the signification of Her Majesty’s pleasure” any invoice which seems to be inconsistent with any obligation of the United Kingdom in direction of any worldwide group.
It shouldn’t be recognized if the U.Okay. is holding up the BVI law due to worldwide drug-control treaties.
“Ironically, the governor of the Cayman Islands has recently done exactly the opposite,” O’Brien mentioned.
“Using his reserve powers, he has forced through legislation, which the Cayman Legislative Assembly refused to approve with regard to civil partnerships.”
The U.Okay. and the governor’s workplace are tight-lipped concerning the delay, so it is just too early to conclude what, if any, impression the transfer might have on different territories weighing cannabis industries.
Bermuda officers shall be watching carefully,
Bermuda, a self-governing British territory, mentioned earlier this yr a draft invoice to put the authorized groundwork for a regulated adult-use cannabis regime in that nation shall be offered to the island’s Legislature.
The Cayman Islands has legalized medical cannabis prescriptions however not manufacturing.
Cayman was the fourth-biggest export vacation spot for exports of Canadian-made cannabis oil in 2019.
BVI’s Cannabis Licensing Act is on the market right here.
Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s worldwide editor, primarily based close to Toronto. He could be reached at [email protected].