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Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce backs changes to medical cannabis law

By on April 1, 2019

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Thanks lawmakers for proposing worker protections, co-op regulator for charter

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce is strengthening its support for the island’s medical cannabis industry, arguing its growth has the potential to contribute substantially to the local economy.

According to a release issued by the nonprofit trade group, which recently established a committee to work on medical cannabis-related matters, Puerto Rico CofC President Kenneth Rivera Robles stressed the “need to give this industry confidence because of its potential for growth and contribution to the economy of Puerto Rico.”

The CofC touched upon issues regarding workers who have been prescribed the plant medicinally and the cannabis industry members’ lack of access to the banking sector.

Following the approval of a report on Puerto Rico House Bill 1197 by the Judicial Committee, which proposes amending Act 42 of 2017–the Act to Manage the Study, Development and Research of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Norms and Limitations, known as the Medicinal law for its acronym in Spanish–to establish employment protections for medical cannabis patients and other related purposes, the CofC announced its support to the press.

The private business advocacy group has held several events and discussions on the budding industry to explore how to foster it and make its “growth viable.”

Rivera thanked the work of the chairwoman of the House committee, Rep. María Milagros Charbonier, as well as bill’s authors, adding that “access to medical cannabis for people with highly critical conditions–such as cancer, epilepsy, Crohn’s [disease] and chronic pain–has been very effective in multiple cases. Hence, the reason we have favored the approval of this bill and supported the creation of labor laws that protect the patients who are certified to use medical cannabis.”

The Cofc is suggesting that the language that seeks to facilitate its implementation in the public and private sectors be amended.

“The approval of this bill will allow this alternative to be viable for employees with chronic conditions who work in the private sector, so we understand that the work of Representative Charbonier brings us a little closer to achieving this goal,” said Rivera Robles.

“Furthermore,” he added, “the approval of COSSEC’s [Cooperatives Supervision & Insurance Corp.] Informative Letter 2019-04–establishing guidelines for cooperatives to offer services to a natural or legal person that participates in the cannabis industry–is also very positive.”

Medical cannabis industry players do not have access to banks, as these are regulated by the federal government, which considers cannabis illegal, and cannot receive deposits from the industry.

The “logical alternative,” the CofC said, “would seem to be locally regulated entities that provide financial services,” such as the cooperatives.

“It does not seem sensible or safe to force a commercial activity to be restricted to operating only by handling cash and that its subsequent storage has to be in a private place. The regulator must express itself by providing the necessary regulatory framework and this regulatory charter is an excellent first step,” Rivera added.

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