Rules Committee OKs Cannabis Advisory Board Nominees

The three nominees for the Cannabis Advisory Board talk with Sen. Janelle Sarauw during the Rules and Judiciary meeting Friday. From left, Miguel Tricoche, Hugo Roller II, Catherine Keen. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the USVI Legislature)
The three nominees for the Cannabis Advisory Board talk with Sen. Janelle Sarauw during the Rules and Judiciary meeting Friday. From left, Miguel Tricoche, Hugo Roller II, Catherine Keen. (Photo by Barry Leerdam for the USVI Legislature)

Three nominees for the Cannabis Advisory Board, each of whom brings knowledge of various aspects of the marijuana industry, were unanimously approved by the Rules and Judiciary Committee and move forward to the Committee of the Whole.

The nominees approved Friday were:

– Director of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Miguel Tricoche, who said since assuming his current post he has built professional relationships with various government departments. This “involvement will assist the advisory board to accomplish its objectives of creating, educating and regulating the medicinal cannabis industry.”

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Hugo Roller II, who was nominated as a farmer representative by Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson and later by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. Roller farms with his family. The Rollers own and operate their own market, selling their produce and landscaping supplies, the largest agricultural operation in the STT-STJ district, Roller said.

Roller has a bachelor’s degree in political science “with a capstone in agricultural policy” from the College of Charleston. He is also an alumni of THC University, where he holds certifications in cannabis business, safety and regulations, budtending, marijuana history and consumption methods and cannabis growing.

Dr. Catherine Keen, who represented the physician community. Keen said she has been interested in entheogens and its relationships throughout history in their applications for health as well as spiritual well-being.

“The recent trend in the United States towards legalization of the cannabis plant has further promoted my desire to educate myself about the potential medical uses for a myriad of diseases that we experience both chronically and acutely in our population. Education remains for me the key to improvement and understanding … of the cannabis plant,” Keen said.

“This Cannabis Advisory Board will require talented individuals from all aspects of our community who will need to work cooperatively, learning best practices that will yield the best product for our territory,” she added.

Keen was nominated by the governor after reading Bill 32-0135 and bringing to him ways to amend and strengthen it. As the bill sits now, she said, it will be costly and time consuming for residents.

The standards of practice Keen added, first have the patient see a practitioner physician licensed to practice and have an actual physical exam. Then written certificate of need is generated as prescriptions written on current existing prescription pads are not approved. Then a fee ranging from $30 to $100 is involved for this office visit The patient must then go to a location designated as the site of medical cannabis registration and apply for a medical cannabis registration card. The card, which has an expiration of one year or less based on the assessment of the physician, is then provided and another fee is passed to the patient. Then the patient can go to a dispensary where they can purchase medicinal cannabis.

Keen’s suggestion to cut down on this lengthy process is have a website that affords the opportunity to obtain this certificate online. She also said certain medical conditions could be redefined as acute medical conditions versus chronic medical conditions. These acute conditions, such as a headache, nausea or vomiting, sprained muscles or mild anxiety, should warrant a situation where it established that the patient, on his own recognizance, could check into a dispensary and gain a day pass.

The doctor nominee said after the patient signs and attests to an acute medical conditions form, could purchase on the premises from the dispensary a registry card and gain access to a much lower amount of product.

“Essentially only good for patients in search of easier access to smaller amounts of medical cannabis. No need for a physician’s physical exam or written prescription would be required to obtain an acute medical condition day pass,” Keen said.

While no amendments were made to the bill on Friday, all three nominees were approved by all seven senators who were present for the Rules and Judiciary Committee meeting. Voting in favor of each nominee were Sens. Janelle Sarauw, Kenneth Gittens, Myron Jackson, Novelle Francis Jr., Alicia Barnes, Javan James and Steven Payne Sr.

The three nominations now move forward to the Committee of the Whole.

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