How & When to Apply for a Cannabis License in the Virgin Islands
Apply for a USVI Cannabis License as Soon as October 3, 2022
The Virgin Islands Cannabis Advisory Board (“VICAB”), within their Office of Cannabis Regulations (“OCR”), approved draft regulations for medicinal cannabis businesses on August 10. License applications will be available for cultivation, manufacturing, dispensary, and research and development.
The application windows for each license type will remain open a month from their start date, and a review committee will score the applications. Comments on the proposed rules are open until September 12, 2022, and the first application window opens in October 2022.
Originally, the application process relied solely on a lottery system, however, regulators amended the rules during their most recent meeting to encourage investment. The process is now predominantly merit-based and will result in a lottery only in the event of a tie for the highest scores.
This scoring change should, indeed, spur investment, but it also means the process is more competitive and the stakes for submitting a winning application are higher.
Opening Dates for USVI Cannabis License Application Periods
(all dates are 2022):
October 3 – Cultivator
October 12 – Laboratory Services
October 26 – Research and Development
December 5 – Manufacturing
December 27 – Dispensary
Other Program Dates
November 3 – Physician registrations open
December 14 – Patient applications open
License Application Scoring
The OCR plans to review and publish application scores no more than 90 days after the application deadline — though in our experience, the scoring process often takes longer than expected.
The scored portion of the USVI cannabis applications includes:
- Filing of Virgin Islands tax returns and payment of Virgin Islands taxes
- Applicant’s experience in operating a regulated business
- Whether applicant has had a Cannabis license revoked or was otherwise sanctioned for failing to comply with requirements of operating a Cannabis business
- Satisfactory criminal background check
- Evidence of adequate capital and liquidity
- Satisfactory charitable contribution plan
- Evidence of community engagement and support from community members
- Submission of business plan that includes:
- satisfactory operation plans
- security measures
- odor filtration systems
- staff training plan
- inventory tracking system
- illicit diversion prevention plan
Additionally, Cultivator applicants must detail:
- Experience in business management, Cannabis, and agricultural or horticultural industries
- Proposed long-term operations plans
- A detailed description of the amount and source of equity, financial feasibility availability of funds, and financial capacity
- A start-up timetable with assumptions
- A comprehensive list of services offered
- A cultivation plan that includes plans for:
- providing a steady, uninterrupted supply
- cultivation methods, experience, and strains
- quality control and assurance
- Evidence of suitability of the facility
- Operations plan
- Employee training and staffing plan, along with an employee handbook
- Environmental plan
- Security plan
- Recordkeeping plan
- Product safety and labeling plan
- Emergency plan
- Diversity plan
- BONUS POINTS for:
- Development of an incubator program
- A plan for funding substance abuse prevention
- Plans to support programs that educate children and teens regarding potential harms of cannabis use [this is listed as its own section, but appears to fall under the bonus as it isn’t assigned points and is included in bonus section for dispensing]
Dispensary applications must also include:
- Business Plan, Financial Plan, and Operating Plan
- A Startup Timetable
- Safety and Community Impact Plan
- Proposed Floor Plan, compliant with ADA
- Dispensary, storage, and handling plan
- Experience in business management, retail, and tourism
- Knowledge of strains and varieties to be sold
- Employee staffing and training plans
- Environmental Plan
- Security Plan
- Recordkeeping Plan
- Emergency Plan
- Diversity Plan
- BONUS points: incubator plan, substance abuse prevention, and support of programs to educate children and teens on harms of cannabis use
Manufacturing applications must also include:
In addition to similar requirements for cultivator and dispensaries above, Manufacturers must also demonstrate experience in business management, cannabis, and agricultural or horticultural industries.
How to Apply: Steps to Take Now
Applicants should prepare for their application by recruiting a qualified team, with a focus on those with experience in highly regulated industries and the experience.
The required business plan is more compliance-focused than the traditional business plan for investors, so applicants should be sure to comply with the specific application parameters. A showing of financial capability is also required, with an apparent prioritization of liquid funds.
Successful applicants will likely have close community connections, which will include a detailed plan for giving back to local nonprofit organizations through regular donations along with strategies for supporting and interacting with the community. Another aspect to start garnering immediately is support from the local community.
Contact our team of license application consultants who have helped clients win licenses and start cannabis businesses in 33 states, plus Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, and Europe.
For more information, the 107-page proposed rules are available on the Virgin Islands Office of Cannabis Regulations’ website here.