Is marijuana legal in Puerto Rico?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.
Recreational marijuana is not legal in Puerto Rico, but medical marijuana in the form of oils, creams, and concentrates are legal. Smoking marijuana flower is not legal, but flower may be vaporized by terminally ill patients and others whose conditions are certified by a physician. Patients may possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana.
Penalties are quite stiff for possession. Any amount may result in a felony conviction, up to five years in jail, and a fine of up to $5,000 on the first offense and a jail term of up to ten years and a fine of up to $5,000 for additional offenses.
Distribution is also a felony. First-time offenders may receive jail sentences of up to 20 years and fines up to $20,000. Additional offenses may result in sentences of up to 40 years and fines up to $30,000. Penalties for distribution involving a minor are harsher.
Even possession of paraphernalia is a felony offense and may result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
In 2015, then-governor Alejandro J. García Padilla signed an executive order (OE 2015-35) discouraging the prosecution and imprisonment of individuals caught with six grams or less of marijuana.
Puerto Rico medical marijuana laws
The initial order was later refined by an administrative order and passage of the Act to Manage the Study, Development and Research of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Norms and Limitations (Medicinal Act; 42-2017). It resulted in Regulation 8766, signed in 2016. Sales began in 2017. In 2018, Regulation 9038 established additional guidelines.
Patients may purchase a 30-day supply. Home cultivation is not permitted. Medical cardholders from the United States may purchase marijuana products from dispensaries due to reciprocity provisions in the legislation.
Puerto Rico qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Qualifying conditions are physician-diagnosed ailments that can be treated by medical cannabis. These include:
- Alzheimer disease
- Cancer and cancer chemotherapy treatment
- Anxiety Disorders, as defined in the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
- Disorders related to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Degenerative diseases such as: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Incurable and advanced diseases requiring palliative care
- Hepatitis C
- Spinal cord injuries
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Parkinson disease
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
- Bipolar disorder
- Any other condition that causes cachexia
- Chronic pain
- Severe nausea or persistent muscle spasms
See the government page for an up-to-date list of conditions.
There is the potential to add additional conditions through administrative determinations by the advisory board.
How to get a medical marijuana card in Puerto Rico
The medical marijuana program is administered by the Department of Health.
Patients in Puerto Rico may apply for a medical marijuana card online for $25, plus physician consultation fees. The patient must obtain a physician certification—once entered into the system, it will allow the patient to complete the necessary form.
Patients will be required to take a photograph that will be used on their identification cards. Cards are good for one year.
Does Puerto Rico accept out-of-state medical cards?
Yes, Puerto Rico accepts out-of-state medical cards issued for conditions covered by its regulations. Visitors may also apply for Puerto Rican medical cards.
When does my Puerto Rico medical marijuana card expire?
In Puerto Rico, medical marijuana cards are valid for one year.
Got your medical card? Find a dispensary in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico marijuana growing laws
Puerto Rico does not permit home growing of marijuana.
Puerto Rico public consumption laws
Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana legislation explicitly prohibits smoking marijuana. Possession laws, which are very strict, would apply in the case of arrest for public consumption.
Medical marijuana users must medicate in private. The legislation provides a long list of public places where consumption is prohibited, from public transport to funeral homes.
Puerto Rico cannabis DUI laws
In Puerto Rico, even medical marijuana patients need to be careful about operating a motor vehicle. Even though Puerto Rico is a medically legal territory, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis.
Drivers in Puerto Rico have implied consent to the withdrawal of blood, breath, or urine for a chemical test. A driver who refuses may be arrested and have samples forcibly withdrawn by a medical professional.
- 1st offense: misdemeanor, mandatory fine of $300 and up to $500, mandatory attendance of an educational program, license suspension of up to 30 days, imprisonment for 5-15 days in the case of non-compliance
- 2nd offense (within five years): misdemeanor, mandatory fine of $500 and up to $750, license suspension of one year, imprisonment from 15-30 days
- 3rd offense (within five years): misdemeanor, mandatory fine of $2,000 and up to $2,500, indefinite license suspension, mandatory imprisonment for 60 days and up to six months
For more information, please refer to Puerto Rico’s DUI penalties here: 9 L.P.R.A. § 5204.
Puerto Rico cannabis testing regulations
In Puerto Rico, medical cannabis must be tested in order to determine its cannabinoid and terpene profiles. It must also be tested for water content and contaminants such as: microbes, including yeast, fungus, mold, Salmonella, and E. coli; foreign materials, including hair, insects, and feces; residual pesticides and solvents; and heavy metals.
For further information, see articles 75-84 of Regulation 9038.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Puerto Rico
Is recreational marijuana legal in Puerto Rico?
No. Only medical marijuana is legal in Puerto Rico. However, a 2015 executive order discouraged the imprisonment of offenders caught with less than six grams of marijuana.
Can you get a medical marijuana card for anxiety in Puerto Rico?
Yes. Anxiety is considered a qualifying condition in Puerto Rico.
Can you get a medical card with a felony in Puerto Rico?
There are no restrictions on felons who wish to obtain a medical card in the legislation. Felons may serve as caretakers and work at dispensaries, testing facilities, and other marijuana-related establishments provided that five years have elapsed since completion of their sentence.
Can you grow your own cannabis in Puerto Rico?
Cultivating cannabis at home in Puerto Rico is not sanctioned by law and can result in incarceration or a fine.
Are vape pens legal in Puerto Rico?
Medical marijuana inhalation devices are legal in Puerto Rico under current legislation.
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Post last updated Sept. 8, 2020