Permanent Inscription Boards to be used for medicinal cannabis certifications
SAN JUAN – Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez Mercado assured on Monday that Puerto Rico’s medicinal cannabis industry hasn’t stopped operating since it began on the island last summer.
During his visit to NextGen Pharma‘s installations in Toa Baja–which are dedicated to the growth, manufacture and dispensation of medicinal cannabis–the Health secretary said the “erroneous” perception that the industry was stuck locally was caused by the conditions in which his administration found the industry’s framework.
“When we took office, we found some problems that we have been correcting with more materials and we are carrying out that effort, which had never been done before, to hasten the process. The problem was there wasn’t the staff nor the equipment to speed up the processes and we found that we are processing between 30 and 40 licenses, when we could be doing 100 or 150 a day. Another thing we found is that the board included in the ruling was dissolved. Now they are assigning the person needed to complete the board, which was the Agriculture Department,” Rodríguez Mercado explained.
To speed up the process, the Health secretary said the administration is negotiating with the State Elections Commission’s (CEE by its Spanish acronym) Permanent Inscription Boards (JIP by its Spanish acronym), so these offer support during the patient certification process.
“We are trying to implement some measures that will help us process patients’ licenses to providers faster. We are trying to add equipment to speed up license stipends, but as we are doing that, we are moving with the JIP, which have more offices throughout the island, to see if they can help us accelerate providing licenses to patients,” he said.
Rodríguez added that the past administration failed to take the necessary precautions to implement a structure that can support medicinal cannabis and assured that when he took office in the Health Department, he had to start the project “from zero.”
Although he previously declared in public that Puerto Rico’s medicinal cannabis industry was disorganized, Rodríguez Mercado acknowledged he was impressed with NextGen Pharma’s organization, strict security measures and modern installations.
“I am impressed with what I saw here today. I believe if there is any industry that complies with everything that must be done, this is it, and I think this should be the model for other people who seek to embark in this industry,” he stated.