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Draft regulations governing the territory’s use of cannabis have finally been published by the Office of Cannabis Regulation (OCR). The 144-page document sets out the entire framework of the territory’s yet-to-be-developed cannabis industry, issuing guidance on everything from the makeup and responsibilities of the OCR itself to how to apply for various cannabis-related licenses.
The regulations set possession limits of 2 ounces of cannabis for adult users with no qualifying medical needs. Concentrates are limited to 14 grams, or one ounce of other cannabis product. Qualified and registered medical patients will be allowed more, up to 4 ounces of cannabis, 1 ounce of concentrates, or 2 ounces of other products.
Apart from formulating maximum possession allowances, the draft rules also outline a regulatory system with various types of licenses and permits for the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis.
Cultivation license holders will be allowed to grow, “cure, process, internally-test, store, package, and label cannabis,” according to the draft regulations, as well as to “store, sell, purchase, receive, transfer and transport cannabis items” to and from other cannabis businesses and testing facilities on the same island. Cultivation license holders will be allowed up to 1000 flowering plants and between 3-4000 immature plants at any one time.
Manufacturing license holders are not authorized to grow cannabis plants but may “manufacture, process, internally test, package and label” cannabis products, and “store, sell, purchase, receive, transfer and transport” items to and from licensees on the same island. Dispensary licenses will be required to sell cannabis to medical users, while a research and development license will be needed to conduct testing and product development of cannabis items and products, and a separate testing license regime has been developed for businesses who wish to ensure that cannabis products have the potency and quality advertised.
A separate permitting regime is being considered to ensure that smaller, local growers are not squeezed out of the market by large industrial cultivation license holders. Provisions have been made for micro-cultivation permits, which will be issued to individuals growing fewer than 50 flowering plants and 200 immature cannabis plants at a time. These micro-cultivation permits must sell their products to a cultivation licensee, and manufacturing and dispensary facilities must purchase at least 15 percent of their inventory from micro-cultivation permit holders.
To facilitate recreational use, various permits will be allowed for adult use in designated facilities or areas. These areas will not allow for the sale of cannabis and related products, only consumption, in an area that is marked by signage, restricted to adults 21 years and older, and where cannabis use will not be visible to the public.
Each page of the draft rules and regulations notes that the contents of the document have not yet been reviewed for legal sufficiency, nor have they been fully vetted by the relevant authorities – the Cannabis Advisory board or the Office of Cannabis Regulations.
Rather, the draft document has been prepared for public review and comment. After having read the proposed framework to govern cannabis use in the territory, members of the public are invited to submit comments via email ([email protected]) by 5:00 p.m. on October 10, following which they will be reviewed and used during the revision process ahead of final approval and publication.
Ahead of the coming into force of the final suite of rules and regulations that will be published by the Office of Cannabis Regulations, the sale, consumption and cultivation of marijuana and related products remains illegal in the territory.