Virgin Islands Considers Marijuana Decriminalization

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St. John and Virgin islands News

Advocates at Town Hall Meeting Prefer Pot Legalization over Decriminalization
By Jamie Ward — October 25, 2013

Sen. Terrence Nelson addresses a town hall meeting on lessening marijuana possession penalties.

The 30th Legislature on Friday will discuss Sen. Terrence “Positive” Nelson’s bill that seeks to lessen the penalties for marijuana possession from imprisonment to fines.

On Thursday a town hall meeting was held to discuss the matter, and what many of those in attendance want is for the prohibition on marijuana to be lifted and for the territory to join the states of Colorado and Washington, where marijuana has now been legalized and taxed, for recreational purposes.

“I don’t understand why we have to decriminalize and why we can’t just go to legalize,” said Ariela Hayes, who has previously testified on the issue before the Senate. “We need to drop the apprehension. The time is now and I think our community will completely support this.” … read more

Senate Ponders Decriminalizing Marijuana
By Bill Kossler — October 26, 2013

Possessing up to either one or two ounces of marijuana would be decriminalized and subject to a fine of $100, with additional reductions in penalties for larger amounts, if a bill discussed in the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety on Friday is enacted into law.

After taking testimony from legalization and decriminalization proponents – and from police officials and Attorney General Vincent Frazer, who opposed parts of the bill, but not decriminalization of small quantities – the committee voted to hold the bill for new amendments and more testimony.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Terrence “Positive” Nelson would make simple possession of up to two ounces a civil offense with a fine of $100. If the offender is under the age of 18, he or she would be required to complete a drug awareness program and the parents would be notified. [Bill 30-0018]

Under current V.I. law, a first offense of simple possession of marijuana and other drugs placed in the same legal category is treated as a misdemeanor carrying a potential sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. A second offense can get two years and $10,000. The penalty and nature of the crime are not tied to specific weights and volumes. The court, at its discretion, may also place a first-offense perpetrator on probation and dismiss the case and expunge the record upon successful completion of probation…. read more

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