Hemp policies in Virgin Islands to be reviewed after warning causes confusion on CBD

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Regulators in the U.S. Virgin Islands have warned licensed hemp retailers to stop selling food and drinks containing CBD, raw flowers and pre-rolls under threat of punishment – leading to confusion.

The V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs (DLCA) and the Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR), in a “reminder,” said prohibited for retail sale specifically are CBD gummies, CBD or THC drink additives, and any products containing more than 0.3% THC.

“These restrictions will be enforced,” the agencies noted in a joint press release. “Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions of this license may result in the seizure of prohibited inventory, fines, and or the suspension or revocation of the license, as stipulated in the acknowledgement that all licensees signed upon receipt of the Hemp Retailers License.”

CBD’s status muddled

It is unclear if CBD in other forms and formulations may be sold. According to the press release, issued Monday, July 8, the only legal hemp foods for humans and animals are those that do not contain CBD or THC, hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein, and hemp seed oil. Also, cosmetics products containing CBD or maximum 0.3% THC are allowed.

In seeming contradiction of the warning issued this week, Virgin Islands policies on industrial hemp list CBD among outputs identified as “reasonable uses for hemp,” and establishes labeling requirements which imply the compound’s acceptability under a hemp law first enacted in 2016 that was later underpinned by the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.

Hemp board reactivated

Asked for clarification during a meeting of the Cannabis Advisory Board and the OCR yesterday, OCR Executive Director Joanne Moorehead said hemp retail licensees “have certain acknowledgements that they signed in order to receive those licenses,” and that “DLCA had every right to issue whatever restrictions pertaining to that particular business license.” She said while those restrictions apply now, they could be changed in the future.

DLCA Commissioner Nathalie Hodge said her agency and a Hemp Board that is being reactivated under the V.I. Department of Agriculture will review CBD policies. “It’s a collaborative effort and we’re waiting on the Hemp Board to get together to do that,” she added.

Meanwhile, the Cannabis Advisory Board yesterday released some rules for licensing and enforcement under laws that legalized medical marijuana in 2019 and recreational marijuana in early 2023.

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