Virgin Island Cannabis Board Approves Proposed Regulations

Get Ready for Cannabis In The Virgin Islands

If you haven’t started yet, now’s the time to start planning for your U.S. Virgin Islands cannabis license application. After a stalled start in the Virgin Islands, the future of the USVI adult-use cannabis market is becoming clearer. The long-awaited release of the proposed regulatory framework came with a surprising expected timeline. The proposed cannabis regulations are open for public comment until March 18, 2024.


USVI Cannabis Market Rollout Timeline

The Virgin Islands Cannabis Advisory Board (VICAB) released an estimated timeline on when to expect license application windows to open. The USVI application windows are set for:

  • Micro-Cultivator Applications: November 4, 2024 (rolling applications) 
  • Laboratory Testing Applications: November 12, 2024 
  • Research and Development Applications: November 20, 2024 
  • Dispensary Applications: December 20, 2024 (45-day window)
  • Manufacturing Applications: January 7, 2025 (45-day window)
  • Cultivation Applications: May 2, 2025 (45-day window)

While these dates may seem far off, we encourage you to start early as these will be lengthy, merit-based license applications that will require extensive planning.

Before embarking on a license pursuit, business hopefuls must fully understand the rules and regulations for the program. The proposed regulations cover regulatory duties, medical cannabis, adult use requirements, general requirements for all license types, an overview of the merit-based license application process, details and operational guidelines for each license type, and administrative appeal.


Adult-Use Cannabis License Limits on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix

The proposed regulations reference the Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act, which authorizes a limited number of cannabis dispensary and cannabis cultivation licenses for each island, until January 1, 2025, as follows: 

  • St. Thomas
    • Cannabis dispensary licenses: up to 7 
    • Cannabis cultivation licenses: up to 15 
  • St. John 
    • Cannabis dispensary licenses: up to 3
    • Cannabis cultivation licenses: up to 5
  • St. Croix 
    • Cannabis dispensary licenses: up to 7 
    • Cannabis cultivation licenses: up to 15


Merit-Based Application Process in the Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands’ Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR) will award licenses based on a ‘Merit-Based Application Process’ and in accordance with their Social Equity Plan.

Under the Virgin Islands’ Merit-Based Application Process, available Licenses are awarded to Applicants with the highest application score for the specific license type and on the specific island being sought. The Merit-Based Application Process will be used for the awarding of all Licenses under the Act, except for the Cannabis Testing Facility Licenses. Every point will count in this competitive licensing process.


Virgin Islands’ Cannabis Application Requirements

While application requirements differ slightly between cultivation, manufacturing, and retail license types, most applicants will need to provide: 

  • Fingerprint and background check information 
  • Business formation documentation and structure
  • Proof of Residency 
  • Source of Funds 
  • Possession of the proposed licensed premises 
  • Detailed diagram of the proposed licensed premises 
  • Emergency Response Plan 
  • Business Plan 
  • Operations Plan 
  • Suitability of the Facility and Premises 
  • Employee Training Plan 
  • Security and Recordkeeping Plan 
  • Product Safety and Labeling Plan 
  • Environmental Plan 
  • Emergency Plan 
  • Social Equity Plan


Micro-Cultivation Permit in the Virgin Islands

Micro-cultivation Permits are also available and will only be issued to current residents of the Virgin Islands who have resided there for at least three years and no less than seven years cumulatively. A micro-cultivation permittee must begin cultivating cannabis plants within two months of licensure and can grow up to fifty flowering cannabis plants and two hundred immature cannabis plants at a single time.


Social Equity Provisions

Social Equity applicants in the Virgin Island’s merit-based application process will be allotted an additional 150 points (15%) for the Social Equity Plan. The following groups qualify for Social Equity: 

  • Majority ownership by individuals who were adversely impacted by the criminal justice system for activities that the Act now considers legal
  • Majority ownership by individuals who are members of religious groups who were adversely impacted by law enforcement for Sacramental Use of Cannabis
  • Female-owned and -operated Entity 
  • Service-disabled Veteran Entity


How to Win a Cannabis License in the Virgin Islands

The first step in preparing to start a cannabis business is to understand the financial characteristics of your project for both personal feasibility and for engaging partners and investors.

Hand in hand with financial modeling, business owners will want to flesh out business planning and strategy to comprehend their target market, brand, vision, experience, and distinct value proposition, among other key details. As these initial items are assembled, keep in mind the Virgin Islands’ many application requirements that will apply down the road so that you can be best prepared for the Virgin Islands’ competitive license application process and have greatest chance for success in this limited license market. 

For help strategizing your business and financial plans and preparing the most competitive application possible, reach out to start the process with our team at Canna Advisors or book an hourly consultation for easy access to cannabis experts right away.

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