Medical Cannabis Is Now Legal In Puerto Rico
The US territory of Puerto Rico has just legalized the use of medical cannabis, effective immediately.
It is another great day for the global cannabis movement, and those hoping to one day treat their ailments without persecution. After a heated and long debate, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has signed an executive order legalizing the use of cannabis and its derivatives for medical purposes. It is a move, which quite frankly, has come as a bit of a shock, surprising everyone involved.
This new order also requires the territory’s health minister to come up with a report within three months outlining a plan for the implementation of a medical marijuana program. The whole ordeal is being seen as a huge step forward for both democratic freedom and the relationship between cannabis, science and politics.
THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE
There has been overwhelming support for the legalization of medical marijuana within Puerto Rico, and prior to the signing of the order, anti-prohibition protesters took to the streets to make this opinion well known – which played a crucial role in the decision to legalize.
In a statement to the press, Gov. Garcia Padilla said:
“This administration is committed to ensuring the health of all citizens residing in our country. Hence the adopting medicinal use is an innovative measure to ensure the welfare and a better quality of life for these patients. We are taking a significant step forward in the area of health is crucial to our development and quality of life. I’m sure many patients receive proper treatment that will give them new hope and high expectations of life for these.”
The executive decision to legalize medical marijuana was supported by Jaime Perello, president of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives. He said:
“It’s a step in the right direction. It has been shown that the use of these substances or components in a controlled manner, can support traditional medical treatment of some chronic medical conditions, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. One benefit most patients report is the relief of physical pain, which represents an improvement in their quality of life.”
Puerto Rico has been mulling over whether to legalize medical marijuana since as far back as 2013, but up until now, has failed to actually move the matter forward. According to Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, “Governor Garcia’s executive order is exactly what was needed. It was the right and legal thing to do given both the absence of a ballot initiative process in Puerto Rico and the inability of the legislature to pass needed legislation.”
If you ask us, we could not agree more. It is clear that this is what the people want, and the bureaucracy and red tape maze of government was getting in the way. The governor’s actions were clear and to the point, enacting the will of the people, just as government officials are meant to do.
NOT EVERYONE IS HAPPY
Despite the move being an overwhelming victory for medical patients and campaigners everywhere, not everyone within the Puerto Rican government is happy. Jennifer Gonzalez, The Speaker of the House of Representatives, complained that the executive order would put the territory in a “judicial limbo”, much like the US currently is – where marijuana has been legalized at state level, but not federal.
However, one of the main arguments that saw the executive order signed was that currently 23 states within the US allow the legal use of medical marijuana, as well as the recent submission of the CARERS Acts to the US senate to end federal prohibition.
Irrespective, this is clearly a progressive move that will improve the quality of life for thousands of people. If legal technicalities are getting in the way of that, then they should simply be abolished. The evidence is overwhelming, and medical cannabis is here to stay.