Puerto Rico Just Legalized Medical Marijuana

Published on May 4, 2015 · Last updated July 28, 2020

Shout the news from the rooftops: Puerto Rico just legalized medical marijuana, effective immediately! After a prolonged debate, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order to authorize the use of medical marijuana in the U.S. territory, surprising everyone – even the advocates!

Governor Garcia-Padilla said in a statement to the press:

“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is crucial to our development and high expectations for their quality of life. I am sure that many patients with receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.”

The executive order authorizes the Puerto Rican Health Department to allow the medical use of “some or all controlled substances or components of the cannabis plant.” It also requires that the island’s Secretary of Health, Ana Ruis, produce a report within three months outlining a plan for implementing a medical marijuana program, although the growth of cannabis for possible clinical trials has been in the talks for at least two months.

Some of the qualifying conditions that they will be considering include the following:

One of the major arguments in favor of medical legalization was the example of 23 different states that have now legalized medical marijuana, as well as the CARERS Act, which would remove the federal prohibition on cannabis. Additionally, Jamaica also recently passed a major decriminalization measure. The evidence and testimonies were overwhelmingly in favor of medical marijuana, particularly after an April 20th rally during which protesters marched to the capitol to demand decriminalization.

The topic was not without its vocal opponents, though. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jenniffer Gonzalez, raised concerns that these actions will leave the law in “judicial limbo,” warning that Puerto Rico may end up in a similar situation as the U.S., where state laws legalizing marijuana conflict with federal laws labeling cannabis a controlled, illegal substance.

However, the President of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives, Jaime Perello, voiced his support for the order, saying:

“The authorization of the medicinal use of controlled substances or components derived from the cannabis plant seems like a step in the right direction. It has been shown that the use of these substances or components in a controlled manner, can support traditional medical treatment of some chronic medical conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. One benefit most patients report is the relief of physical pain, which represents an improvement in their quality of life.”

This could be the start of a whole new era for Puerto Rico!

¡Buena suerte, Gobernador!

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Lisa Rough
Lisa Rough
Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.
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