Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the Virgin Islands Hemp Plan, which outlines the procedures and requirements for cultivating and producing hemp products in the territory.
The plan, which is administered by the V.I. Department of Agriculture and Industrial Hemp Commission, includes provisions for maintaining information on the land where hemp is produced, testing the level of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), disposing of plants that do not meet the necessary licensing and other requirements, and ensuring compliance with all USDA and other federal guidelines.
“This is very welcomed news for the territory,” the governor said Monday. “Not only will this approval lead to the potential for an increase in our local export manufacturing, but it will also help us further diversify our economy and add new streams of revenue.”
Bryan also reiterated his call on Monday for Senate action on his administration’s proposed expansion of the Medicinal Cannabis Patient Care Act, which aims to establish a taxed regulated system for the cultivation, manufacture and distribution of cannabis for medical, non-certified and sacramental use.
The revenues generated from the tax will go toward to the territory’s Government Employees Retirement System (GERS).
“I now call on the 33rd Legislature to act on the amended Cannabis legislation submitted by my administration in December and resubmitted two weeks ago to continue our forward push to establish new revenue streams to move us closer to shoring up the Government Employees Retirement System,” Bryan said.
Hemp is a term used to classify varieties of cannabis that contain 0.3 percent or less of THC, which is the psychoactive element in the plant. Hemp is considered a non-intoxicating part of cannabis that is harvested for the industrial use of its derived products and is one of the most durable natural fibers in the world.
Hemp is known to have more than 50,000 different uses, including textiles, clothing, foods, lotions, soaps, cosmetics, pet bedding, mulch, paper products (such as newsprint, packaging and cardboard), industrial products (such as oils, paints and solvents), building materials and technical textiles (such as netting, canvas and carpeting).
By focusing on the different uses of hemp, the V.I. hemp program intends to build its manufacturing sector and begin producing multiple crucial products that will be made in the territory but be available for export and use around the world.
The Virgin Islands Hemp Plan also contains provisions governing the University of the Virgin Islands’ research and testing of hemp and hemp products.