British Virgin Islands Cannabis: Trouble in Paradise

According to the UK government, “the BVI [British Virgin Islands] is a separate legal jurisdiction to the United Kingdom and has its own laws.” This being the case, one would think that a medical cannabis bill passed unanimously by the BVI’s legislature would have no problem becoming law. However, the territory’s governor—a British civil servant appointed by the Queen—has not yet assented to the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020, despite its approval by the legislature in June 2020. Assent is also being withheld to a separate bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis.

If approved, the Act would allow possession of medical cannabis by adults. Depending on the amount, a different regulatory framework would apply. For possession of between one and 50 grams, a self-declaration form would suffice, while medical approval would be necessary for quantities exceeding that range. Possession of one gram or less would essentially be unregulated. Visitors to the BVI would be able to possess cannabis under these conditions, a nod to the BVI’s tourist industry. The Act also envisions a more permissive framework for CBD.

While under the BVI Constitution the governor has the power to deny assent to bills (in his role as the Queen’s

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