Would you like to open one of the first adult-use cannabis businesses in the U.S. Virgin Islands? Schedule a free consultation with our US Virgin Islands Cannabis Consultants today.
The new law establishes a regulated system for cultivation, manufacture, and sale of cannabis for adult, medicinal, and sacramental use. It also caps the number of business licenses granted for each of the Territory’s main islands, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Therefore, the application process will be very competitive.
Engage our Virgin Islands marijuana consultants – we make the application process smooth and simple. In the article below, you’ll find a step-by-step guide to the application process. But first, let’s review the broader scope of the US Virgin Islands’ marijuana program.
Laws and Regulations
First of all, read Act 8680 (“The Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act“). It replaces and expands upon the previous language for medical cannabis to adult-use cannabis.
Secondly, become familiar with the website of The Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR). As a newly created division within the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, it oversees the development and implementation of USVI’s cannabis program. Finally, the OCR is THE agency that approves and awards the cannabis licenses in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Make yourself familiar with their informative pages.
Our cannabis business license application writers make it simple for you to win a marijuana business license in the US Virgin Islands. Next, let’s take a look at the proposed timeline.
As set forth in the Act, OCR must promulgate rules and regulations related to all activities no later than 180 days from its enactment. Then, OCR must start issuing applications for licenses and permits within a year of its promulgation of the rules and regulations.
As such, the OCR must publish the rules by July 17, 2023, and will likely begin accepting applications in late 2023.
If you want to win one of the first adult-use business licenses available in the USVI, start preparing now. Enlist the help of our expert marijuana consultants in the US Virgin Islands. In the meantime, read below for an overview of the USVI adult-use cannabis business program.
Types of Marijuana Business Licenses in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The Act establishes several cannabis business license and permit types in U.S. Virgin Islands. These include:
- Cannabis Cultivation License;
- Micro-Cultivation Permit;
- Manufacturing License;
- Dispensary License;
- Research and Development License;
- Cannabis Testing Facility License; and
- Adult-use Lounge Permit.
Keep in mind that the OCR sets caps on how many licenses it will grant for each of the territory’s main islands. Regulators may make more licenses available after January 1, 2025, if their studies demonstrate that expansion is needed to meet consumer demand.
Also, in order to prevent over-saturation, the Act requires the OCR to set production limits for cultivation licensees to no less than 500 and no more than 1000 flowering plants at a single time. Production limits will be evaluated annually by the OCR and may be revised. Annual fees will be assessed using a sliding scale based on the number of plants grown.
Now, let’s look at the application requirements for US Virgin cannabis business licenses.
Application Requirements for U.S. Virgin Islands Cannabis Business Licenses
First of all, be aware that OCR will evaluate competing business applicants based on merit and scoring of weighted sections.
As part of your US Virgin Island cannabis license application, you will be scored on:
- Past Virgin Islands taxes paid and evidence of compliant return filing and payment of taxes;
- Experience of the applicant in operating a regulated business;
- Whether an applicant has had a license suspended or revoked for operating a Cannabis Business;
- Proposed odor filtration systems;
- Proposed security measures;
- Proposed operating plans;
- Proposed staff training plans;
- Proposed Inventory Tracking and illicit diversion prevention plans;
- Proposed community engagement and cooperation plans, including evidence of support from community members;
- Evidence of adequate capital and liquidity; (L) Evidence of charitable contributions or scholarships; (M) Evidence that the applicant is a female-operated entity and/or a service
Having already read through the Virgin Islands Cannabis Act, you should have a good sense of what will be required during the application process itself. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our US Virgin Island cananbis consultants.
Fees (Application & Licensing)
First, the Act tasks OCR to establish application fees, annual fees, and renewal fees, all of which may be adjusted by the OCR from time to time, but any increase may not exceed 10% of the last fee set for licenses.
The application fees currently set in the Act for US Virgin Island cannabis licenses are to be no more than the following amounts:
- $20,000 – Cannabis Cultivation License
- $50,000 – Cannabis Dispensary License
- $10,000 – Cannabis Manufacturing License
All licenses will be valid for one year. The OCR will establish annual and renewal fees as it promulgates the rules in the coming year. Additional fees will be assigned for change of ownership, change of location, or modification of Licensed Premises.
Next, let’s look at an extremely important tenet of the Act.
Social Equity Status in the US Virgin Islands
First of all, the Act emphasizes that the closed economies of the three islands that make up the U.S. Virgin Islands have limited economic opportunities for its people. Many of its residents have been impacted by the prior prohibitions on cultivation, possession, and sale of cannabis.
Secondly, the Act requires that merit-based applications award points in several categories. Every cannabis license application is mandated to include a plan for the ownership and participation of:
- Female-operated entities,
- Service-disabled veteran-operated entities, and
- Individuals or groups who have been adversely impacted by the criminal justice system for activities which are now legal.
In addition, the OCR will prioritize cannabis business license applications for ownership by such individuals and entities. Within the merit-based application process, the additional points awarded as part of the social equity plan will constitute no less than 15% of total points awarded.
Individuals adversely impacted by the criminal justice system
An applicant will score higher by providing evidence that its proposed ownership includes individuals who have been adversely impacted by the criminal justice system for activities that the Act now declares legal.
Applicants with ownership by members of groups who have been unjustly targeted by the criminal justice system for sacramental activities that utilize cannabis will merit higher scores in this category.
Residency proof to promote economic equity
Also, to prevent “predatory investors” from dominating the industry, the Act requires a proof of residency requirement. Therefore, business applicants must have lived in the U.S. Virgin Islands for at least 10 of the last 15 years.
Bottomline, one of the main initiatives mandated by the Act is to bolster and support social equity, economic opportunity and ownership for its residents. Show how your business will contribute to and support this mission.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s discuss the next steps you can take towards opening a marijuana business in the USVI.
Tips for Winning Licenses from our US Virgin Island Cannabis Consultants (Steps 1-10)
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to obtain a cannabis business license in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Step 1: Read the Laws and Regulations
The first step to winning a license in the U.S. Virgin Islands is to read its Laws and Regulations.
Doing so will give you an overall idea of the goals and framework for the adult-use cannabis market. Also, it will familiarize you with what types of business licenses will be needed for your proposed cannabis activities.
Next, let’s look at the types of licenses laid out in the Act.
Step 2: Choose a license type
Having read through the Act, you may already know what type of cannabis business you want to operate. Once licensed, additional permits are available for certain activities, such as for onsite cannabis consumption, cannabis temporary use event permits, and for adult-use lounge permits, which may be located adjacent to your licensed dispensary.
Refer to the appendix for an overview of each type of USVI cannabis business license.
Step 3: Engage our US Virgin Islands cannabis consultants
- Development of your cannabis business plan,
- Team recruitment,
- Facility design,
- Operational support, including Standard Operating Procedures for all activities,
- Employee training, and more.
We can help you setup your business from start to finish, including raising capital. For that, you need to form your business entity.
Step 4: Form a business entity
Most importantly, an applicant for a cannabis business license in the Virgin Islands must be organized under 13 V.I.C. or 26 V.I.C. of the Virgin Islands Code. In addition, the Act bars any owner, principal, or member of the entity applicant to have been convicted of a Disqualifying Felony Offense. All must be of at least 21 years of age.
Secondly, no license may be held by, or issued to, any person or any Immediate Family Member of any person who, at any time within the previous 12 months, held elected office in the executive or legislative branches of the Government of the Virgin Islands, or was employed by the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, the OCR, or who was a member of the Board.
If you are unsure what type of business entity would work best for your proposed operations, engage our consultants or work with an attorney to choose the best structure for your business.
Step 5: Build a team with the help of our US Virgin Islands cannabis consultants
With our team talent acquisition services, you will be pleased with how we can help you put together the ideal team for the approval of your business license. Reach out today for more information about our personalized business application and consulting services.
Step 6: Develop a business plan
The next step is to put together a business plan. Your plan should clearly outline your goals and milestones. Ideally, you will use your business plan to raise capital and build support for your venture.
Step 7: Raise capital
First of all, winning a USVI cannabis license will require a great deal of time and energy. It also requires money.
If you don’t already have the capital necessary for a successful cannabis business, we’ll help you pitch your business to cannabis industry investors.
In addition, our expert US Virgin Islands cannabis business consultants will ensure that your business entity and its funding are compliant.
We can help you raise capital and ensure that any minority or majority owners, permitted interest holders, reasonable royalty holders, and financial interest holders are allowable per the Act’s requirements.
Next, we’ll discuss the importance of facility location.
Step 8: Choose a location
I cannot overstate the importance of facility location in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
First, your business location must be accessible to consumers and patients and is critical to the approval of your cannabis license application.
Secondly, your location plans should demonstrate your commitment to sustaining the fragility and beauty of the Islands’ natural resources, one of the Virgin Islands’ greatest assets.
In addition, due to the limited land space on these relatively small islands, the OCR will establish production limits for cannabis cultivation to prevent over-saturation within the Territory.
The OCR will issue a limited number of licenses, as follows:
- St. Thomas
- Up to seven Cannabis Dispensary Licenses, and
- Up to 15 Cannabis Cultivation Licenses.
- St. John
- Up to three Cannabis Dispensary Licenses, and
- Up to five Cannabis Cultivation Licenses.
- St. Croix
- Up to seven Cannabis Dispensary Licenses, and
- Up to 15 Cannabis Cultivation Licenses.
Therefore, OCR will award merit-based cannabis licenses only to persons with the highest application score for the specific license type and on the specific island being sought.
Our cannabis business consultants can help you pursue the best options tailored to your business goals.
Step 9: Garner local support with the help of our US Virgin Islands cannabis consultants
Once you’ve identified property and your location, you can begin building support from local organizations. The US Virgin Islands have no local municipality governorship; its government operates for the territory as a whole.
Strong local support will help you score higher on your merit-based application. Also, among other requirements, your application will need to demonstrate:
- Proposed community engagement and cooperation plans including evidence of support from community members, and
- Evidence of charitable contributions and/or scholarships.
In addition, our US Virgin Islands cannabis consultants can help you build relationships with local businesses, state and community non-profits. Show how your cannabis business will support their efforts and positively impact your community. Show how you will be a good neighbor.
Now, onto the most important step to win a cannabis business license in the U.S. Virgin Islands!
Step 10: Write and submit an application
Finally, it’s time to write and submit your application.
OCR will establish a merit-based application process to evaluate competing business applicants.
Dependent on the license type, but fairly uniform for all, the considerations will include:
- Suitability of the proposed location,
- Accessibility for patients (in the case of dispensary business applications);
- Character, veracity, background, qualification, and relative experience of applicants, owners, investors, officer, and other proposed applicant team members;
- The economic benefits to residents of the Virgin Islands by local ownership, jobs, and other opportunities;
- Business plan;
- Social Equity Plan; and
- Procedural plans, including but not limited to:
- Security plan, including lighting, physical security, and alarm requirements,
- Health and safety, including restrictions on pesticides,
- Cannabis manufacturing standards, including safe manufacture of products including extracts and concentrate,
- Packaging and labeling,
- Quality assurance,
- Proposed odor filtration systems,
- Inventory tracking and illicit diversion prevention plans,
- Transportation and storage of cannabis, as well as transportation manifest,
- Banking and transportation of cash deposits,
- Employment and staff training plan,
- Training curriculum, and
- Advertising, signage, and display,
As you can see, the application requires hundreds of hours of detailed writing as well as the development of formal operating procedures.
Our cannabis consultants in the U.S. Virgin Islands can help you write and assemble your entire application, saving you time and money. With an experienced cannabis licensing team on your side, you can significantly improve your odds of winning a license.
Why not let us make it simple for you?
Conclusions from our US Virgin Islands Cannabis Consultants
It will take time, capital, and energy to win a lucrative marijuana business license in the beautiful Virgin Islands. The competition will be fierce.
However, our cannabis license application consultants have years of experience winning cannabis licenses in over 27 states and across the globe in 6 countries.
Schedule a call with us today to discuss your U.S. Virgin Islands cannabis business plans.
APPENDIX | ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Below, you’ll find additional information as well as links to marijuana business resources for the US Virgin Islands.
Description of each license type
A registered entity allowed to acquire, possess, cultivate, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, and/or sell cannabis and related supplies to Cannabis establishments.
A registered entity which may purchase cannabis from cultivation, dispensary, and research and development licensees, as well as from micro-cultivation permittees within the Territory.
In addition, the cannabis manufacturing license allows the licensee to manufacture, process, internally test, package, and label cannabis concentrates and cannabis products.
The licensee may store, sell, purchase, receive, transfer and transport cannabis items to internally test, package, and label cannabis items; and also, store, sell, purchase, transfer, and transport cannabis items to and from other cannabis licensees.
Required to source no less than 70% of their cannabis used for production from Unaffiliated Third Parties, a cannabis manufacturing licensee must also purchase or acquire a portion (to be determined by OCR, but between 10% and 25%) of its cannabis from micro-cultivation permittees.
A cannabis dispensary licensee may purchase cannabis items from other licensees or micro-cultivation permittees to conduct the following activities:
- internally test, package, and label cannabis items; and
- store, sell, purchase, transfer, and transport cannabis items to and from other licensees.
The Act requires dispensaries to source no less than 70% of their cannabis used for retail sales from Unaffiliated Third Parties.
Research and Development License
The Research and Development license allows the entity to purchase cannabis items from cannabis licensees or micro-cultivation permittees. A licensee must achieve the certification standards for testing facilities. Also, a licensee must prove independence from businesses whose products it tests.
The R&D licensee is allowed to perform the following activities:
- internally test, package and label cannabis items; and
- store, sell, purchase, transfer and transport cannabis items to and from other cannabis licensees.
Importantly, this license also allows the entity to operate as a cannabis testing facility.
Testing Facility License
Initially, only one facility which is operated by private entities will be allowed on each of the three major islands, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. These will be awarded by an annual contract through the Government of the Virgin Islands Request for Proposal process.
As you explore these cannabis business license opportunities, move on to the next step and engage our marijuana business consultants in the US Virgin Islands.
We can help you quickly determine the license type appropriate for your business goals and desired activities.
You can own up to one adult-use dispensary and one cultivation license in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Yes, you are permitted to sell or transfer licenses to other entities.