Puerto Rico Governor Signs Executive Order Legalizing Medical Marijuana

[This story was written in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.]

Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla Sunday signed an executive order legalizing medical marijuana. The move comes after years of discussion in the US island territory.

La Fortaleza -- the Puerto Rican governor's mansion in San Juan (wikipedia.org)
Under the order, the Puerto Rico Health Department is enabled to authorize the use of marijuana and its derivatives for health reasons. The order directs the secretary of health to produce a report laying out rules and regulations for the new system within 90 days.

"We're taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life," Gov. Garcia said in a statement. "I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope."

The Puerto Rican legislature debated medical marijuana in 2013, but a final vote on that bill was never taken, and the issue was stalled until Garcia Padilla acted. He has the support of many, if not all, legislators.

"It's a step in the right direction. One of the benefits that patients say they receive the most is pain relief," said Jaime Perello, president of the Puerto Rican House of Representatives in remarks reported by the Associated Press.

Not everyone was on board, though.

Garcia Padilla's order leaves the island's drug laws in "judicial limbo," warned opposition legislator Jennifer Gonzalez.

But the Drug Policy Alliance liked what it was seeing.

"Gov. Garcia's executive order is exactly what was needed," said DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann. "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."

"Gov. Garcia's action is a compassionate move, and demonstrates a regard for scientific evidence," says DPA Americas policy manager Hannah Hetzer. "This will alleviate the unnecessary suffering of thousands of patients in Puerto Rico, while also generating revenue and much-needed employment."

Puerto Rico becomes the second US territory to legalize medical marijuana, after Guam. Some 23 states and the District of Columbia have also legalized it, and the federal government has signaled it is not going to interfere.

It also becomes the second Caribbean entity to legalize it, after Jamaica. In Latin America, it is also legal in Uruguay, which has legalized recreational as well, and medical marijuana crops are being grown in Chile with government approval.

San Juan, PR
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Woohoo! Marijuana has been

Woohoo! Marijuana has been ILLEGAL for over 70 years!

What are the results?  *Today marijuana is America's #1 cash crop.  *Today American kids can buy marijuana easier than they can buy a beer.  *Marijuana is stronger and easier to get than ever before, albeit much more expensive than it should be.  To smoke casually from the “black market”, it will run you $100/month.  This is much more expensive than it needs to be.  More expensive than my cell phone ($20/month from Tmobile), car insurance ($25/month from Insurance Panda), netflix ($10/month), and gym ($15/month from PF) COMBINED!!! Would you rather put money into the hands of violent gangs and drug dealers… or into taxes for schools, hospitals, public infrastructure, etc.??? *Today marijuana is the #1 source of income for violent drug gangs and drug cartels who are richer and more dangerous than ever before.  *Guns are illegal in Mexico yet Mexican drug cartels are buying machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades, airplanes, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft guns, and even submarines.  *There are over half a million Americans in jail right now for non-violent drug crimes.  *The DEA has been having sex parties funded by drug cartels. The ATF/DOJ has given thousands of guns to drug cartels. I have this stupid thing I do called THINKING, and clearly I can see that marijuana prohibition can never work! America should have learned this simple lesson from alcohol prohibition!

"..rules and regulations..'

"..rules and regulations..' may include specific diseases, permissibly treated with Mj. The State of Georgia recently went that way and about half the diseases, most people will die from anyway. Kind of like a last request or final cigarette.

For Georgia, it is a starting place I admit, but hopefully applications will expand so as to provide some relief to more than just half the applications having what almost assuredly a death sentence. How about those not going to die. Politicians get out of the way for those dying, it wouldn't be seemingly to outwardly fight people dying from gaining relief, but it needs to go further.

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