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Would you like to open a cannabis dispensary in the U.S. Virgin Islands? The merit-based process for a limited number of licenses will be highly competitive. Not only that, but one of the chosen Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary license winners may also hold a cultivation license. But only one.

The Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR) will issue a limited number of USVI cannabis dispensary licenses for each main island. In addition, OCR will award licenses only to applicants with the highest scores on each specific island.

Below, our US Virgin Islands cannabis consultants provide a step-by-step guide to help you through the application process for adult-use marijuana dispensary licenses. 

Tips for winning U.S. Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary licenses 

Step 1: Read Laws and Regulations

First of all, read Act 8680 (“The Virgin Islands Cannabis Use Act“). It amends Title 19 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 34 in its entirety, creating a new legal cannabis program for adult-use marijuana businesses.

Secondly, become familiar with the website of The Office of Cannabis Regulations (OCR). It oversees the development and implementation of USVI’s cannabis dispensary licenses. Also, the OCR has the final say on scoring and awarding of all adult-use cannabis licenses in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Make yourself familiar with the OCR’s regulatory news updates.

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.

Step 2: Determine if you’re eligible

The Act bars any owner, principal, or member of the entity applicant from having been convicted of a Disqualifying Felony Offense. All must be of at least 21 years of age.

The applicant, including each majority owner, must meet residency requirements and supply documentation of ownership interest. Also, you must supply proof of possession of your proposed licensed premises. Reach out to our USVI marijuana consultants. We can help you make sure you are qualified.

Step 3: Engage a consultant for your US Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary license application

Allow us to manage your project from pre-licensure to post-licensure and operational. We can manage all aspects of your application writing, including:

  • Development of your cannabis business plan,
  • Team recruitment,
  • Facility design,
  • Operational support, including Standard Operating Procedures for all activities,
  • Employee training, and more.

Our cannabis business consultants can help you set up your dispensary business from start to finish, including raising capital. For that, you need to form your business entity.

Step 4: Form a business entity

An applicant for a cannabis dispensary license in the Virgin Islands must organize under 13 V.I.C. or 26 V.I.C. of the Virgin Islands Code. If you’re not sure what type of business entity would work best for your proposed operations, engage our dispensary consultants or work with an attorney to choose the best structure for your business.

Step 5: Develop Business Plan

For USVI cannabis dispensaries, the business plan must show at a minimum:

  • The ability to maintain an adequate supply of cannabis,
  • Plans to ensure safety and security of patrons, and protection of the community,
  • Diversion Prevention plans, and
  • Plans to make cannabis available to low-income registered qualified patients.

Secondly, and equally important, your business plan should demonstrate how your business will add to the social and economic equity program initiatives in the Virgin Islands. Therefore, as with all in life, choose wisely the central figures that you will bring to your team for your USVI cannabis dispensary venture.

Step 6: Build a team for your dispensary activities

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 dispensary license. Reach out today for more information about our personalized business application and consulting services.

Finally, building a great team makes raising capital easier. You’re ready for the next step!

Step 7: Raise Capital

First of all, it’s essential to plan carefully and secure the required application fees in advance. You may see this fee as minuscule for upfront costs to start a dispensary business in the USVI, but the application fee is just a tip of the iceberg. OCR requires that you provide evidence of adequate capital and liquidity.

Additionally, you should factor in equipment costs, facility costs such as leases and renovations, lighting, security, labor costs, and many more costs to a new marijuana business. We can help you plan, itemize and strategize for all your start-up costs.

Secondly, 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. A solid business plan and impeccable team members can only but help you gain access to capital.

Thirdly, our US Virgin Islands dispensary license specialists 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.

Finally, it is crucial that your dispensary business promotes a prosperous future for the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is key to the Act’s push for legal grow opportunities on the islands for its citizens. Next, we’ll discuss the importance of your facility location on the islands.

Step 8: Choose a location for your USVI cannabis dispensary

Remember that due to the limited land space in these clustered islands, the OCR will award merit-based USVI marijuana dispensary licenses only to those businesses with the highest application score on the specific island for which the dispensary license is being sought.

The OCR has set a cap on the number of licenses available for each of the main islands, as follows:

  • St. Thomas
    • Up to seven Cannabis Dispensary Licenses.
  • St. John
    • Up to three Cannabis Dispensary Licenses.
  • St. Croix
    • Up to seven Cannabis Dispensary Licenses.

Therefore, choose your facility location wisely. Also, be aware that a cannabis dispensary licensed premise:

  • May not be located less than 250 feet from a school or house of worship,
  • Cannot be located less than 250 feet of the perimeter of any cruise ship-bearing dock or pier in the Territory.

Also of interest to prospective USVI cannabis dispensary license applicants: Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, and Frederiksted Historic Districts and the town of Cruz Bay may impose additional requirements such as security, odor control, and community engagement. However, within these districts, distance requirements can be waived or reduced by the OCR. Still, keep in mind that the historic districts issue additional restrictions and guidance regarding signage and fencing. 

Our cannabis business consultants can help you find and nail down an auspicious dispensary facility location on the island tailored to your dispensary means and mission.

Step 9: Garner Local Support for your Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary license application

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 cannabis dispensary 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 existing civil 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 USVI!

Step 10: Write and submit your application for a US Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary license

Firstly, OCR will award merit-based cannabis dispensary licenses only to those applicants with the highest application scores for the specific island’s limited number of licenses. Remember, the cap on dispensary licenses is up to three on St. John, and up to seven each on St. Croix and St. Thomas. 

If you are awarded a cannabis dispensary license, you may also hold a cannabis cultivation license (it is a separate application), but the OCR will issue all other available cultivation licenses to cultivation licensees only. As an applicant for a dispensary license, you do not need to either apply for nor win a cultivation license.

The application process will be highly competitive! The OCR will score your marijuana dispensary application based on several US Virgin Islands cannabis business license application requirements. Therefore, it’s not an easy task to win a USVI dispensary license.

Lastly, it’s not all about how much capital you can raise. Your ultimate task involves hours of technical writing, research, community outreach and collaborative planning. Let us help you produce the most highly competitive application. We’ll make the paperwork and application process more simple, so that your time is well spent and rewarding. 


In conclusion, our experienced cannabis licensing team has years of experience winning marijuana licenses in over 27 states and across the globe in 6 countries. We can help you write and assemble your entire application, saving you time and money.

Schedule a call with our U.S. Virgin Islands cannabis consultants today to learn more about how we can help you start your cannabis dispensary business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as how to integrate your operations with a cultivation license if you win one of those as well. With us by your side, you can significantly improve your odds of winning a USVI dispensary license. 

Additional information related to US Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary licenses

Authorized Conduct for a US Virgin Islands cannabis dispensary license

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.

Dispensaries are required to source no less than 70% of their cannabis used for retail sales from Unaffiliated Third Parties.

Ownership Limitations 

One dispensary licensee on an island may also have the opportunity to hold a cultivation license on that license, but only one. You apply for these separately. Also, a licensee shall not make any change in ownership, whether adding or removing owners or adjusting equity amongst owners, without prior approval from the OCR.

A change in majority ownership of any cannabis dispensary license shall be prohibited for one (1) year after the date the license is issued unless the licensee can demonstrate that a transfer of ownership is made necessary by death or disability of the licensee, substantial financial hardship, or other reasons as determined by the OCR in accordance with criteria established in regulations.

Transferring Ownership

A dispensary licensee may not make any changes to its ownership without approval from the OCR. In addition, a license is not transferable unless the licensee formally applies for a Change of Ownership, which the OCR reserves the right to approve or deny by considering the requirements of the Code and any of its promulgated rules.

No application for transfer of ownership or change in the business structure of any dispensary license shall be approved by the OCR until all taxes, sales taxes, any fines, penalties, and interest assessed against or imposed upon such licensee in relation to the licensed business are paid in full.

Links to useful resources and related articles:

Kristina Pardue

Author Kristina Pardue

Kristina is a grant writer, marketing, and cannabis licensing writer with over 20 years of experience in the arts and sciences. Graduating as an Interdisciplinary Echols Scholar from the University of Virginia, she later received a BFA in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute. In addition to writing and artwork, Kristina enjoys equestrian eventing, hiking, and exploring. A mother of two, she lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

More posts by Kristina Pardue

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