In 1916, the United States purchased the three territories, known as the U.S. Virgin Islands, from Denmark for $25 million in gold. These Islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, are situated in the Caribbean Sea less than 200 kilometers south of Puerto Rico. Although these islands do have a local government system, they are still regulated by the United States federal government, and therefore the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana has been illegal on the islands. As of December 19, 2014, this law has changed. Now, thanks to a Senate decision, the possession and use of personal amounts of cannabis has been decriminalized for adults in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The passing of this bill has not been easy. Senator Terrance Nelson introduced bill 30-0018, which includes the marijuana decriminalization measure, in September of this year. The measure was approved by the senate, and passed to the desk of Governor de Jongh. In October, Gov. de Jongh vetoed the bill, citing too many loopholes as his reason. On December 19, the senate voted to override the Governor’s veto by passing bill 30-0018, which officially lessens the punishment for marijuana possession to a civil fine.
The passing of the marijuana decriminalization amendment means that, now, an adult found in possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis may be ticketed and fined up to $200. Law enforcement officers will also have the right to choose whether to confiscate the plant at that time. Previously, a person caught with any amount of marijuana risked being sentenced to time in jail.
photo credit: West End WS