The State of Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico
2020 Grade: D
2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations
2019 saw Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture regulators working to develop a package of reforms to organize a hemp production program in a manner consistent with requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill. Temporary licenses were issued to hemp producers for 10-acre grows in the fall of 2019 as well as part of the territory’s initiation of its hemp production plan.
As Puerto Rico looks to 2021 ASA encourages state lawmakers and regulators to reduce medical program enrollment costs, and authorize patients to cultivate cannabis at home to reduce cost burdens. ASA also recommends that elected leaders and regulators organize legal protections for patients related to employment, housing, education and family law, and permit patient access to medical cannabis flower. Finally ASA asks that regulators work to improve the number of medical cannabis literate physicians and health professionals permitted to recommend cannabis as a treatment option.
Puerto Rico’s program was first enacted via executive order in 2015 under Governor Padilla, however legislative activity was required to officially create such a program. The Legislative Assembly approved Reglamento 8766 in 2016 in response to the Governor’s order, which established the length of one year as the term of enrollment for cannabis patients and authorized physicians to evaluate patients, organized a list of eligible conditions patients must demonstrate before securing legal access, and limited the treatment delivery methods solely to manufactured products (e.g. whole plant cannabis/access to cannabis flower and the smoking of cannabis is prohibited).
The legislation also provides for the creation of a licensing system for the commercial operation of medical cultivation, manufacturing, testing, and retail facilities to serve patients. Reglamento 8766 also removed restrictions on individuals with prior convictions from serving as medical cannabis employees, and authorized reciprocity for patients who do not permanently reside on the island. The measure prohibits patients from cultivating medical cannabis at home.
In 2017, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed into law the Act to Manage the Study, Development and Investigation of Cannabis for Innovation, and Applicable Norms and Limitations (Act 42). This new legislation made further medical cannabis program improvements and enabled the state system to open, with the first medical cannabis dispensary serving patients later that year. In July 2018, the Governor signed Reglamento 9038 which focuses on the study, development and investigation of cannabis for research purposes.
No feedback was received from patients in Puerto Rico.