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Medical cannabis license evaluations allegedly on hold

By on April 5, 2017

SAN JUAN – Members of the medicinal cannabis industry, organized under MICaM, on Wednesday expressed concern about an alleged stagnation in the evaluation of license applications.

Mario Fornés, president of MICaM, urged speeding up the inspections and licenses for the industry to moves forward and meets projections. “This is the biggest concern of the industry right now,” he said. MICaM is made up of different members of the cannabis industry, including patients, doctors and business people.

“We believe that the board, made up of heads of government agencies, is not a mechanism that expedites processes, given that their busy work schedules are unlikely to give them much time to meet. It should be clear in the law whether the representative appointed by each head of agency on the board will have decision-making authority,” he said in a written statement.

“If they do not have it [the authority], even if the representatives have more time to meet, if they depend on the head of the agency for the final decision, the process will not flow properly and, therefore, agility in evaluating cases is lost,” Fornés said.

The written testimony was presented to the Senate Federal, Political and Economic Relations Committee, which is evaluating Senate Bill 340 to establish the legal framework for the medicinal and scientific research uses of cannabis in Puerto Rico.

On the other hand, MICaM suggested that the conditions for which medical cannabis can be recommended be defined and not to left at the discretion of the board, as the bill suggests.

Fornés also proposed revising the board’s ability to set standards regarding the duration of a recommendation.

“Conditions are specifically defined; how long the patient will require a treatment based on medical cannabis cannot be predicted. We believe that as long as the physician-patient relationship is properly regulated, the qualified medical practitioner must be in a position to determine the type of treatment required and its duration. In case it is considered necessary to establish the validity of the recommendations under the law, it should be stipulated that it may be extended or renewed at the discretion of the physician and notified to the Department of Health, without further formalities,” he said.

The president of MICaM also stated that industry members have made substantial capital and resource investments to comply with the strict controls and parameters.

Regarding the prohibition of recreational use and protection of minors, MICaM recommended that the age limit be extended to all licensed establishments in the industry and warned that failure to do so could create problems since, at the federal level, cannabis is illegal.

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“The development of the medical cannabis industry promotes an additional treatment alternative for patients with debilitating conditions, it would mean substantial revenue for the government, while generating jobs. Puerto Rico is going through an economic crisis that merits evaluating and accepting any beneficial initiative that contributes to the country’s economic development. Promoting best practices is something that has to be looked at seriously,” Mario Fornés said.

The organization acknowledged the importance of integrating academia and the role of research in the study of medicinal cannabis as proposed by the measure.

MICaM conditioned its endorsement on that the amendments submitted for evaluation by the commission be considered. Mario Fornés pointed out contrasts between the measure and the regulations in force (Regulation 8766 of the Department of Health).

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