In response to the UK authorities, “the BVI [British Virgin Islands] is a separate authorized jurisdiction to the UK and has its personal legal guidelines.” This being the case, one would suppose {that a} medical hashish invoice handed unanimously by the BVI’s legislature would haven’t any downside changing into regulation. Nonetheless, the territory’s governor—a British civil servant appointed by the Queen—has not but assented to the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020, regardless of its approval by the legislature in June 2020. Assent can also be being withheld to a separate invoice to decriminalize possession of small quantities of hashish.

If authorised, the Act would enable possession of medical hashish by adults. Relying on the quantity, a unique regulatory framework would apply. For possession of between one and 50 grams, a self-declaration kind would suffice, whereas medical approval can be obligatory for portions exceeding that vary. Possession of 1 gram or much less would basically be unregulated. Guests to the BVI would have the ability to possess hashish beneath these situations, a nod to the BVI’s vacationer trade. The Act additionally envisions a extra permissive framework for CBD.

Whereas beneath the BVI Constitution the governor has the facility to disclaim assent to payments (in his function because the Queen’s consultant), this energy shouldn’t be wielded flippantly. In response to the speaker of the native legislature, “in trendy instances, the monarch, governor-generals, or governors all the time assent to a invoice handed by the Folks’s Home, on the recommendation of the federal government of the day, because the royal assent is taken into account a formality.” In response to the speaker, the final time royal assent was denied within the UK was in 1708.

On December 10, Governor Augustus Jaspert explained that he “could solely assent to a invoice whether it is totally compliant with worldwide laws,” such because the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Medicine. For that reason, the Act has obtained “in depth line-by-line scrutiny within the UK,” to make sure compliance with the nation’s worldwide obligations. Jasper added that, as a precondition to assent, the BVI and UK governments should enter into an MOU to switch related powers from the Dwelling Workplace in London (analogous to the DOJ in america) to a brand new BVI Hashish Licensing Authority.

A few of Jasper’s comments on the difficulty recommend he has private considerations about each proposed hashish payments (“I’d not be doing my responsibility if I didn’t think about them totally”). Given the governor’s background, robust views relating to hashish use wouldn’t be stunning. In response to the BVI authorities, Jaspert “served within the UK Dwelling Workplace as a Deputy Director, main native policing and enhancing the general public’s confidence within the police and the Authorities’s methods to cut back hurt from the misuse of alcohol and unlawful medication from 2007-2009. Throughout this time, he additionally served as a Justice of the Peace in a prison court docket in South West London.”

This all mentioned, Jasper’s latest statement made it sound as if it isn’t actually his name, pointing to considerations again residence. Furthermore, it could be the case that his hesitation relating to the invoice is because of flak from Dwelling Workplace mandarins, moderately than private views about hashish.

For Virgin Islanders, this could be chilly consolation: Both means, individuals for whom they didn’t vote are holding up laws authorised by their elected representatives. It will additionally imply the issues for the measure wouldn’t finish with Jaspert’s departure on the finish of this yr. And hostility to hashish legalization in London would bode in poor health for efforts in different British territories, akin to a not too long ago launched invoice in Bermuda (which might legalize leisure use).

Understandably, Virgin Islanders usually are not reacting properly to the governor’s unprecedented holdup. The legislature’s speaker has characterised the denial of assent as an “insult,” including that the legislature ought to have the facility “to override an unelected governor when he refuses to assent to a invoice.” For his half, BVI Premier Andrew Fahie mentioned, “We had been proactive and diligent that each one the measures within the invoice met what the United Nations said and past so we’re not in violation. And we saved saying that on a regular basis. There isn’t a authorized violation so we couldn’t perceive why it was not being assented to,” including he hopes “this isn’t one thing carried out to stall” the laws. In any case, the delay in assent to the Act is resulting in a lack of curiosity by investors, in accordance with Fahie.

Having grown up in a neighboring Caribbean island that has had its personal points with exterior powers (Puerto Rico), the story of the BVI’s hashish invoice has a sadly acquainted ring. It will be hyperbole to evoke colonialism: The Act was handed by an elected legislature and the discontent over the denial of assent highlights how uncommon such interventions are. It’s true the BVI’s standing as a British territory locations limits on what it might do, however the territory would presumably be free to comply with the instance of different Caribbean islands who obtained independence from the UK. But the legacies of the Caribbean’s difficult previous nonetheless echo.

If that is one way or the other misplaced on Jaspert or the UK authorities, it absolutely shouldn’t be on Virgin Islanders. Whoever is at fault for the holdup of the Act—the governor, London, or each—ought to heed the phrases of a statesman from one other Caribbean nation, who said, “the individuals of this nice little democracy have spoken in a most dignified and eloquent method [and] the voice of the individuals, is the voice of God.”