Pubdate: Sat, 03 Jan 2015
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2015 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Aldeth Lewin, Daily News Staff


ST. THOMAS - In his transmittal letter to the Senate, Gov. John 
deJongh Jr. took some time to comment on one of his vetoes that the 
Senate overrode at the last session.

At the Dec. 19 session, senators unanimously overrode a veto on a 
bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

"I must reiterate my concerns regarding the inequities contained 
within Bill No. 30-0018, the veto of which this body overrode," deJongh wrote.

When he vetoed the measure in October, deJongh said he supports the 
decriminalization of marijuana and sees it as "well-intentioned and 
consistent with a trend" in the United States.

However, he said, he vetoed the bill because it is inconsistent in 
its application of the law as it pertains to private employees versus 
government employees, particularly in the government's efforts to 
address workplace safety issues in areas of hazardous jobs, public 
safety and the operation of heavy machinery.

DeJongh also said the bill compromises the judicial branch's ability 
to enforce its orders pertaining to pretrial release, bail and probation.

In his letter to Senate President Shawn- Michael Malone sent 
Thursday, deJongh reiterated his concerns.

"Though I support the decriminalization of marijuana, to put all 
three branches of the government of the United States Virgin Islands 
- - as single largest employer in the territory - at a disadvantage in 
the ability to properly manage employee conduct, as compared to such 
right by private employers is simply unfair," he said.

The new law says that no government agency can impose any form of 
penalty, sanction, restriction or disqualification on a person for 
possessing one ounce or less on marijuana or paraphernalia for marijuana use.

While the law specifies government agencies, it does not give a 
similar directive to private-sector employers.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom