Puerto Rico governor signs law to regulate medical cannabis industry
SAN JUAN – Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed Sunday the Law to Improve the Study, Development and Research of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Regulations and Limits, which regulates the use of cannabis in Puerto Rico for medical purposes, but keeps recreational use the plant prohibited.
Despite the controversy it caused, the law allows the use of the plant’s bud in cases involving terminal illness or when recommended by a physician.
“The bud is available to those who have terminal diseases and for whom it is identified as an ideal solution. I don’t believe there is controversy at the moment,” said Rosselló, who hopes the signing of the legislation will expedite the issuance of permits for patients seeking this treatment.
The legislation recognizes the participation of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in the research and development of medical cannabis, while earmarking 50% of the revenue obtained from administrative fines under the measure for its operation. Another portion of these fines would be assigned to the Remediable Catastrophic Illness Services Fund.
Ten percent of the sales and use tax (IVU by its Spanish acronym) collected from the industry will be allocated toward the Trauma Hospital of the Río Piedras Medical Center. The agriculture and medical tourism sectors will also benefit, the governor said.
The law creates a board within the Department of Health that will implement the law. It will regulate the issuance of patient and dispensary permits and have the authority to issue fines.
“The medical law will provide certainty to patients and all parties involved in the industry. Similarly, the law highlights the role of the research and development of medical cannabis, which in turn will foster economic development, job creation and academia,” Rosselló said at a press conference.
During the signing of Senate Bill 310, the governor was accompanied by Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association (PRMCA) Chairwoman Ingrid Schmidt and several patients who use marijuana as a medical treatment.
Among them was Narelis Cortés, a veteran who suffers from Parkinson’s and fibromyalgia, and who recalled how she improved her quality of life when she began using medical cannabis. Also present were Karla Santiago, a cancer patient, and Josué Brenes, son of the late journalist Ramón “Papo” Brenes, who benefited from cannabis to lessen the side effects of cancer.
“This initiative sends a positive message to entrepreneurs, investors and scientists who are watching what happens on the island. We have the commitment and leadership of the governor so that the future regulation of the industry under this law bears witness to his initial commitment to patients as well as economic development,” Chairwoman Schmidt said.