US Virgin Island Cannabis Laws & Regulation Overview


AC Moon

Croptops Greenhouses LLC
University Virgin Islands
Oaksterdam University

There are over 700 islands in the Caribbean, which are classified separately than that of the Bahamas (which has recently medically legalized Cannabis in Nassau).

There are 33 different political entities in total that rule all the individual territories of Caricom. With the vast expanse of opposing opinions within each island and country as well as religious and government ownerships, the laws within the Caribbean pertaining to Cannabis use, cultivation and business can often leave Americans puzzled. 

Sparkling a few hidden gems within the U.S. political and legal umbrella, is a well-known and “easy to reach” Caribbean destination referred to as the “USVI”, or the United States Virgin Islands.  This island chain is a few hours’ flight from Florida and is governed by the same Federal Laws as mainland states, which also includes its brother territory Puerto Rico, which can be seen from the lower V.I. island masses.

United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico can be reached and visited without passports as well as the Asian Pacific area of Guam. Though the residents of the islands are considered Americans, they do not have voting rights and are void of influence with political affiliations- having their own independent sets of laws and political processes.

On January 17th,2023- Adult Use Cannabis Law were passed and the powers that govern began the arduous process of creating the recreational Cannabis infrastructure.

This followed the passing of the Virgin Islands Medical Use act in 2018, which was passed, but never implemented.  This followed the Puerto Rican acceptance of Medical Marijuana laws in 2017,  which remains a country that honors only “Medical Use”. 

With the U.S. Virgin Islands containing over 50 total islands and cays, the 4 largest public bodies carry the names St. Croix, St. John, Water Island, and the capital island of St. Thomas.

For foreigners looking to visit the USVI, they have followed the steps of nearby Puerto Rico and accept outside prescriptions and these have been protected under medical rights. This allows the possession of 1 ounce of Cannabis at any given time for both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

With the new implementation of the recreational use platform into USVI, it has begun to change the rules.  Up and until this point there has been a heavy influence of imported and local Rastafari grown cannabis. With the passing of legal hemp derived cannabinoids in federal law, there has been a significant number of shops where one can purchase hemp based cannabinoids with little oversight. 

These products are imported legally from the mainland and are often confused for the high THC (d9) medical cannabis that is the average consumers or tourists target product.   The importation of hemp seeds also muddled local cultivars cannabinoids ratios and the era beacons in a plethora of high THC legal products.

Final reviews and regulations are now underway for the construction of rules for business and consumers within the Virgin Islands.  With the British Virgin Islands only a 30-minute boat ride away, it’s important to remember that cannabis of all forms is considered illicit in the U.K. owned providences.  Do not attempt to bring goods between countries via watercraft as agents are aware of the discrepancy of laws.  All water and air travel are governed by entities that do not align to local laws and it is best to just obtain your product when reaching your destination.

When visiting on cruise ships or for temporary vacation, there soon will be an addition of cannabis consumption lounges to choose from. The passing of this landmark island law has now opened the doors for many varieties of creative commerce and will provide on-site consumption in tandem with alcohol bars to provide a full spectrum of island experiences. 

With the USVI having very lax corporate taxing structures that are often referred to as “Tax Havens”, it’s been imperative to have the VI Rastafari Cannabis Council and those understanding the position of local farmers stand up and help steer equity and inclusion within the conversations. 

It is now ruled, that to be part of the legal Cannabis commerce industry of the country, you must have been a resident there for at least 10 out of the last 15 years.

To partner with a Virgin Island resident to become a founder, the resident must at all times retain 51% ownership of the business as a controlling decision maker. Any and all investors must be fully vetted by the local regulating personnel as well as a Cannabis Agents card must be obtained to work within Cannabis in the territory in any facet. This includes a background and character check.  These actions will help ensure that the controlling decisions of the businesses stay within the USVI jurisdiction.

As an additional layer of foundation within the industry, “Home Grow” rights remain intact with an additional explanation of its inclusion. To grow your own Cannabis on the islands, you must be a resident of the country, (US citizens must live there 4 months to be considered) and obtain your Medical Marijuana card. Others that have priority within the home grow rights are Rastafari, who have sovereign rights to use and cultivate their own supply of Cannabis as a religious sacrament. As well as women, veterans and those having been incarcerated for Cannabis offenses in the past.  There is an accompanying expungement act that is now assisting those with a history of persecution for Cannabis, that helps with eradicating prior convictions and aids in finding employment and reeducation.

This contrasts with the lack of home grow rights that exist in Puerto Rico. On this island locals are banned from cultivation and are restricted to the types of Cannabis products that can be obtained. 

In the earlier mentioned United States providence island of Guam, found in the Pacific Ocean in Micronesia (not Caribbean) area, it is completely legal for both Medical and Recreational Cannabis with possession laws also allowing for 1ounce in personal use.  Many dispensaries are available to visit when exploring these areas.

 At no time should you attempt to fly between these countries with Cannabis products. Though Hemp derived products are imported legally, you will be considered a felon if caught by the TSA in customs or security. These entities are ran by federal laws. If at any time you wish to transport federally legal hemp product, it must be declared upon entering. 

Further down in the Caribbean Ocean you will find beautiful exotic destinations galore with many Cannabises friendly destinations to choose from.  

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is close to my heart having spent a few years working and living there.  This chain of 32 islands is governed by the British Government, but operates under an independent authority and has legalized both Medical Marijuana and mushrooms. The current system in place also allows for the use of each outside medical prescriptions to enjoy at their new consumption lounges and dispensaries.

Jamaica welcomes visitors in the ganja tourism sector, with legal ways to obtain Medical Marijuana.  They also honor outside prescriptions for cannabis, and you can expect a wide variety of openly used products to choose from. 

 Other Medical Marijuana legal Caribbean countries include Barbuda, Antigua, Cayman Islands, Belize, St. Kitts, and newly medically legalized Barbados.  Trinidad, Curacao, and St. Lucia are all on the edge of legalizing following Dominican Republic, which only allows residents legal home grow rights of 3 plants.

This is a vast difference than the opinions held by Haiti, Grenada and Guyana which all carry continued harsh punishments for the possession or consumption of any forms of Cannabis, at times facing possible death penalties. 

As the music of the Rastafari which holds these islands as their root’s calls to the members of the world Cannabis Community, it is important we understand and respect the cultures and environments that they protect. Each island throughout the waters holds endemic and special unity, with toned dialect and mannerisms only seen in that one special place. With Reggae music being a flagship sound for the culture of Ganja, take the time to educate about the places you visit and the journey they have gone on to be a part of the world cannabis industry. Never make assumptions about one’s character based on features or accents.  As you enter through the Caribbean gates of the United States Virgin Islands and beyond, take special care to be an honorable visitor in these evolving nations.

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Author Bios

Matt Maurer – Minden Gross
Jeff Hergot – Wildboer Dellelce LLP

Costa Rica
Tim Morales – The Cannabis Industry Association Costa Rica

Elvin Rodríguez Fabilena


Julie Godard
Carl L Rowley -Thompson Coburn LLP

Jerry Chesler – Chesler Consulting

Ian Stewart – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Otis Felder – Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP
Lance Rogers – Greenspoon Marder – San Diego
Jessica McElfresh -McElfresh Law – San Diego
Tracy Gallegos – Partner – Fox Rothschild

Adam Detsky – Knight Nicastro
Dave Rodman – Dave Rodman Law Group
Peter Fendel – CMR Real Estate Network
Nate Reed – CMR Real Estate Network

Matthew Ginder – Greenspoon Marder
David C. Kotler – Cohen Kotler

William Bogot – Fox Rothschild

Valerio Romano, Attorney – VGR Law Firm, PC

Neal Gidvani – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder
Phillip Silvestri – Snr Assoc: Greenspoon Marder

Tracy Gallegos – Associate Fox Rothschild

New Jersey

Matthew G. Miller – MG Miller Intellectual Property Law LLC
Daniel T. McKillop – Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC

New York
Gregory J. Ryan, Esq. Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Tim Nolen Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP

Paul Loney & Kristie Cromwell – Loney Law Group
William Stewart – Half Baked Labs

Andrew B. Sacks – Managing Partner Sacks Weston Diamond
William Roark – Principal Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin
Joshua Horn – Partner Fox Rothschild

Washington DC
Teddy Eynon – Partner Fox Rothschild