Legislation decriminalizing the possession of one ounce or less of cannabis in the United States Virgin Islands became law this weekend.
On Friday, Senate lawmakers voted to override a line-item veto from Governor John de Johgh of the decriminalization provision, which had been included in the territory’s 2015 fiscal year budget.
The depenalization measure eliminates jail time for minor marijuana offenses. Under the new law, cannabis possession for those age 18 and older is classified as a civil offense, punishable by a fine between $100 and $200. Those under the age of 18 can be fined and will be required to complete a drug awareness program.
Under the previous law, minor marijuana possession offenses were punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The enactment of the new law “will go a long way in easing cost on the judicial system and judicial process,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Terrance Nelson. Senators voted 14-0 to override the governor’s veto.