How to Apply for a Cannabis License in the US Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands Cannabis Licenses Available This Year

After an exceptionally long lead-up, the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is finally moving ahead with cannabis business licensing this year. Cannabis business entrepreneurs in St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John have waited half a decade on regulated cannabis sales to start in their jurisdiction.


Legislative Support with a Rocky Program Rollout

Though the VI Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act was signed into law in January 2019 and the Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR) began operations in January 2022, medical cannabis sales have yet to begin. Though Senate Bill 34-0345, “The Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act” legalizing adult-use cannabis, passed by a veto-proof Senate majority and was subsequently signed into law on January 18, 2023, still no legal recreational sales have started. 

Virgin Islanders’ demonstrated unparalleled patience while politicians botched the rollout, but at long last there are hard dates on the horizon for cannabis business license applications and awards. The Rules and Regulations for the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act of 2023 were approved by the Cannabis Advisory Board on April 17, 2024 and signed by Governor Albert Bryan Jr. on May 4, 2024. With these rules, the applicable cannabis laws, and other OCR resources, we can see the Virgin Islands’ cannabis market taking shape through the haze.


USVI Cannabis License Opportunities 

Current License Process

The current cannabis market in the Virgin Islands is wide open. With a population of over 100,000 and nearly 2.4 million visitor arrivals in 2023, the Virgin Islands are bright with opportunity. 

A few hemp dispensaries opened in anticipation of medical and recreational sales, but they aren’t legally licensed or regulated to sell medical cannabis or adult-use cannabis. At this time, there are zero cannabis dispensaries licensed by the Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR) in the Virgin Islands—only hemp products are allowed for sale on the islands, and even those products are in question under potential adjustments to the Farm Bill.  

With the licensing process starting this year and dispensing licenses set for award in March 2025, legal cannabis sales in the U.S. Virgin Islands may eventually begin in April 2025.

Cannabis License Types Available

In the Virgin Islands, the following types of cannabis business licenses are allowed: 

There will also be a Micro-Cultivation license available. The main differences between Cultivation and Micro-Cultivation Licenses are the scale and ownership restrictions. Micro-Cultivations are small-scale growers limited to 50 flowering plants, which are suitable for individuals or small businesses. 

All licensed operators will be able to produce and sell both medical and adult-use cannabis products.

Number of Available Licenses

The amount of each type of license to be awarded was determined in the statute last year and hasn’t changed.  From January 1, 2025 onward, regulators may issue more licenses if they perform a study showing that doing so is necessary to fulfill customer demand. Until January 1, 2025, cannabis business licenses will be limited by island and dispensary or cultivation license type as follows: 

St. Thomas Cannabis Licenses:

  • 7 Dispensary Licenses 
  • 15 Cultivation Licenses

St. Croix Cannabis Licenses:

  • 7 Dispensary Licenses 
  • 15 Cultivation Licenses

St. John Cannabis Licenses:

  • 3 Dispensary Licenses 
  • 5 Cultivation Licenses

Other Cannabis License Options:

Other license types, like manufacturing and microbusinesses, are not subject to restricted license limits.


Virgin Islands Cannabis Licensing Timeline

If you’re a Type A personality like us, you love to plan ahead, and nothing is better than a solid timeline. 

Remember, we always take government cannabis projections with a grain of salt—one missed link could throw the whole chain of events off, and Virgin Island leadership hasn’t instilled confidence as of yet. That said, the USVI Office of Cannabis Regulations kindly laid out what we can tentatively expect for licensing over the course of the next year. 

Though applications will be awarded pursuant to a merit-based application process (with the exception of the Laboratory Testing RFP), some will be awarded on a rolling basis as they qualify, and other licenses will be graded, ranked, and awarded after the close of an approximately month-and-a-half long application period. 

Applications With A Rolling Window

    • November 4, 2024 – Micro-Cultivator Application Opens 

Merit-Based Applications With A 45-Day Window

    • December 20, 2024Dispensary Application Opens 
    • January 7, 2025Manufacturing Application Opens 
    • May 2, 2025Cultivation Application Opens
    • November 20, 2024 – R&D Application Opens

virgin islands timeline


Cannabis License Requirements in the US Virgin Islands

Applicants seeking USVI licenses for cultivation, manufacturing, or retail operations in the cannabis industry must submit a comprehensive array of documentation. This includes fingerprint and background check information, business formation documentation and structure, proof of residency, and a detailed source of funds. Additionally, they must demonstrate possession of the proposed licensed premises and provide a detailed diagram of the location.

Required Business Plans for USVI Cannabis Applications

Critical plans are required such as:

Additional Common Questions & Answers For USVI Cannabis

It’s been a long road for hopeful cannabis business owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the process has evolved along the way. We get many popular questions from our clients and partners, and these are our top few regarding USVI licensing.

1) What Is The USVI Application Process?

The Virgin Islands has put together a competitive, merit-based process with 1,000 maximum points allotted for each application, plus 150 social equity points. Applicants will need to submit detailed business information along with written plans. 

2) Is Property Still Required?

Yes, all applicants must provide a proposed Licensed Premises, and the suitability of such is worth up to 150 points on the merit-based applications. 

3) Is Proof of Funds Required?

Applicants will have to demonstrate sufficient funds available and disclose Financial Interests for OCR approval. 

4) Is USVI Residency Required?

Yes, all applicants must have majority resident ownership (i.e., 50.1% or more owned by Virgin Islands residents).

5) Are There Any Additional Points For Social Equity Applicants?

Yes! Social equity applicants can be awarded up to 15% in addition (150 points) if they qualify under the USVI’s Social Equity Plan. This means that the maximum score for the USVI cannabis business license application is actually 1150 points. 

6) Are There License Transfer Restrictions?

Yes, within one year of license award, ownership cannot be changed. After one year, it may be changed with the approval of OCR.


Immediate Action Items for Virgin Islands Cannabis Applicants

After a long wait, USVI license applicants need to gear up. With application windows opening in November 2024, applicants must be preparing now to submit a winning cannabis business application and to attract investors, if needed.

Investors will be looking for a financial and business plan, as will the state, so these aspects are the natural two to get started on now.

Reach out to Canna Advisors or book an hourly consultation to see how we can help set you on course for cannabis success in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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