On Sunday, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order to legalize medical marijuana. The executive order went into effect immediately. This move was unexpected and it follows a lengthy public debate.
Governor Garcia gave Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Health three months to issue a report that explains how the order will be implemented, what are the expected impacts, and what future steps could be taken to improve the program.
Governor Garcia said, “We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life. I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope.”
Puerto Rico’s Health Department in charge of the program
The executive order directs the health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of cannabis for medical use. Governor Garcia said the government will specify the authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes.
Governor Garcia said that medical marijuana is currently being used to treat a number of debilitating diseases in the United States such as the pain associated with migraines, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS.
Executive order seeing more support than resistance.
Governor Garcia’s order has received support from a number of policy makers. Jaime Perello, president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, said he supported the order.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “One of the benefits that patients say they receive the most is pain relief.”
Amado Martinez, a medical marijuana activist, said that he was very surprised by the governor’s actions. Martinez is curious as to the illnesses for which the use of medical marijuana will be allowed. He is also interested in seeing medical marijuana will be imported or if people will be able to obtain licenses to grow it.
Jennifer Gonzalez is one of main policy makers that is against the legalization of medical marijuana. Gonzalez said that Governor Garcia’s actions leave the law of controlled substances in a “judicial limbo.”
A growing trend
Marijuana legalization has been a growing trend around the United Sates. Currently, some form of marijuana is legal in 36 states. Recently, a group of United States Senators introduced a bipartisan bill which would effectively end the federal prohibition on marijuana. Jamaica is one of Puerto Rico’s neighbors in the Caribbean. The country recently passed a law that partially decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and paved the way for a legal medical marijuana industry.