Proposed Law Declares Medical Cannabis a Highly Regulated Industry
SAN JUAN – More than a measure to offer alternative treatment for certain conditions, Senate Bill 340 was presented to regulate the medical cannabis industry with a focus on preventing it from becoming a source of criminal activity by declaring it “a closely regulated industry for inspection purposes and other administrative investigative actions.”
This means that the industry would be exposed to unannounced inspections and strict licensing requirements.
The proposed law would repeal Health Department Regulation 8766 on medical cannabis approved by the past administration so those interested in working in the industry would have to meet new licensing requirements. The measure comes after there is already a marijuana dispensary in Barceloneta and an entity offering courses to obtain licenses to work in the industry.
The legislation increases the number of experts who can authorize the use of medical cannabis, highlights the role of research and development as well as the integration of academia in the study of medical marijuana, establishes restrictions within the legal framework of the federal government, and emphasizes the regulatory expertise of the pharmaceutical industry.
The measure creates the Cannabis Regulatory Board with the power to require the preparation of academic degrees and courses to obtain a license and the need for continuing education of the different industry participants.
Besides a person appointed by the governor, the new board will be composed of the Health, Agriculture, Economic Development and Treasury secretaries.
The only people authorized to use medical cannabis will be those with a condition identified by a physician. However, the maximum length of the drug’s use will be determined by the board.
The board will also establish limits for medical cannabis that may be recommended and used by a patient for treatment a day and the amount that may be dispensed to the patient.
It will also impose course and licensing requirements to prevent “the infiltration into this industry of people whose real interest is not to safeguard the health of patients but to commit financial or other crimes.”
“The public policy of this Administration on cannabis is focused on an alternative treatment for patients and as a consequence of that premise, a serious and professional industry that provides the aforementioned cannabis treatment. Therefore, related persons will be required to be trained on the benefits and risks of cannabis, to take certified continuing education courses and, in some cases, have specific academic degrees for some positions.
“All cannabis use should be permitted under the recommendation of a qualified medical doctor who knows the risks and benefits of cannabis as part of a bona fide patient-doctor relationship. Doctors should be trained to be able to recommend medical cannabis properly,” the measure reads.
While the current regulation allows minors with certain conditions to use medicinal cannabis, the language of the proposed law seems to want to prevent minors from using it.
“No child under twenty-one (21) years of age may enter a dispensary. Any form or method, including packaging, that is attractive to children is prohibited and the regulations adopted under this Act shall meet the criteria to achieve this goal,” the proposed law says.
According to the measure, it was a reckless course of action to thrust medical cannabis in Puerto Rico, and consequently an industry, through an executive order of two and a half pages without providing parameter.
The measure establishes a regulatory order to monitor all stages of the process of research, cultivation, manufacturing, laboratories, transportation and dispensing of cannabis. Each stage will be licensed.
A strict system would also be implemented monitoring the cannabis starting with the seeds and throughout the entire process to allow only legally grown cannabis in Puerto Rico to be accepted for use by the industry.