In an effort to boost revenue in the Virgin Islands, the government is pursuing plans to grow medicinal marijuana in the territory, Premier Andrew Fahie said during the recent deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee.

Several American and Canadian companies have presented government officials with research indicating that a certain strain of marijuana can be grown in the territory using local manpower, Mr. Fahie said, according to a report on the closed-door SFC proceedings.

The premier added that at least 40 people will be taught how to grow the drug, and 40 acres of land at Paraquita Bay will be devoted to its cultivation, the report stated.

But Theodore James, acting director of agriculture and fisheries, said the details are still being worked out.

“What I can tell you is right now all the information we are still gathering,” Mr. James said. “We are still sifting out all the pros and cons … or [tightening]up whatever loose ends there might be.”

Mr. James could not confirm whether the government had awarded a contract to a company, and Mr. Fahie did not respond to requests for comment.

Additional plans

During the SFC deliberations, Mr. Fahie also said a lab would be constructed — which will be the only one of its kind in the region — that would verify the quality grown and also test if other parts of the “hemp” could be used for medicinal purposes, according to the report.

Asked by opposition member Mark Vanterpool (R-D4 )whether government would collect revenue — projected at $5 million, according to the SFC report — via the taxation or sale of marijuana, Mr. Fahie replied that it would use a “mixture of both.”

According to the premier, government will sell the marijuana to collect revenue and taxes, though it will also “be involved with the sale of the marijuana and the taxes” of farmers’ businesses, the SFC report stated.

Mr. Vanterpool then suggested that the public would need an explanation of how the revenue will be used, and Mr. Fahie noted that “an explanation would be given at the launch of the initiative.”

Possessing and selling marijuana is currently illegal in the territory