The V.I. Industrial Hemp Commission granted two requests on Thursday that will allow Crucian Hemp Farms LLLP to include an 8,640-square-foot nursery on its site in Mon Bijou and obtain a hemp transportation license.
Crucian Hemp Farms was licensed to grow cannabis in December 2020 and is the territory’s first and only licensed grower and hemp seed distributor. Seeds will grow in the nursery and then be transplanted to the 125-acre growing area in Enfield Green.
Thursday’s favorable vote by the commission also modifies Crucian Hemp Farm’s license to allow for the propagating of seeds in the nursery and the cloning and raising of a number of adult plants for research, according to Adnan Rahman, the company’s director of cultivation.
Also approved was a transportation license for two vehicles to carry plants and products to the airport or seaport. The company wants to have a refrigerated van and/or a refrigerated container.
The approvals were given without setting fees for the changes. Hannah Carty, deputy commissioner of Agriculture, said there would be no additional fee for the nursery. Peter Ross, a partner in Crucian Hemp Farms, said the company already paid $38,000 for the grower’s license.
The fee for the transportation license has not been set, and according to Agriculture Commissioner and Hemp Commission Chairman, Positive Nelson, the delay is due to changes in staff. He said fees will be established at an executive session soon. Carty clarified that some fees have been recommended, but need to be reviewed. Four vacancies on the commission will be discussed during that meeting also.
To date, the territory has been working under an interim final rule approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Carty said the final rule was received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is “less stringent.” The commission will need to draft a rule for review by the U.S. Justice Department and USDA. No deadline was given, Carty said.
In April 2016, Act. No. 7868 gave the V.I. Department of Agriculture, the University of the Virgin Islands and the Industrial Hemp Commission the authority to oversee the research of hemp and implement a hemp program. V.I. hemp laws require Agriculture, UVI and the commission to adopt federal regulations as they are made.
In October 2019, the USDA issued the interim final rule, requiring a written plan be submitted to launch a hemp production program. Without an approved final rule from the federal government, the Virgin Islands will not have primary regulatory authority over the program.
The written plan will define the Hemp Commission’s policy for issuing licenses, establish the V.I.’s hemp plan and outline procedures and requirements for cultivation and producing products in the territory.
The commission also needs to work on its annual report to the Legislature, according to Carty. David Hall, president of the University of the Virgin Islands and Hemp Commission member, said the summary should focus on what the commission has been doing and recommend what will help grow the industry.
“It would be good for us to reflect on what we’ve done,” Hall said.