Where |Puerto Rico

Capital |San Juan

Inhabitants |3.548.397

Legal Status |decriminalized

Medical Program |yes

by Diana on 21/10/2016 | Legal & Politics

Puerto Rico: Huge steps towards legalisation

Cannabis After several years of uncertainty and timid changes, the ball is in Puerto Rico's court. True legalisation is gaining momentum and the process for applying for a Cultivation Licence for Medicinal Cannabis has finally been kick started. The licence's principles will be implemented as per Regulation no. 155.


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After several years of uncertainty and timid changes, the ball is in Puerto Rico’s court. True legalisation is gaining momentum and the process for applying for a Cultivation Licence for Medicinal Cannabis has finally been kick started. The licence’s principles will be implemented as per Regulation no. 155 for Medical Cannabis Use, Possession, Cultivation, Manufacture, Production, Creation, Dispensing and Research, which took effect on 28 January this year.

Ana Ríus Armendáriz, Secretary of the Department of Health said that as per this regulation, the Department of Health itself will be tasked with the prior assessment of cultivation centres. This measure aims to ensure that the centres comply with all the requirements.

Background

If we look back on 13 November 2013, as Sensi Seeds announced,  Puerto Rico’s proposal for decriminalising cannabis had been approved by the Senate itself. Seen in this light, and with the Upper House’s backing, Puerto Ricans were only waiting for the Lower House and the Governor to approve the proposal.

As the process slowed down to a tedious pace, patients who wanted to use medicinal cannabis were up in arms. They blamed the country’s government for having no intention whatsoever of authorising the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and demanded swift and effective changes.

As a matter of fact, the organisation Red Cannamédica de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico’s Network of Medicinal Cannabis) handed the Secretary of Health, Ana Ríus Armendáriz, a “declaratory order” classifying cannabis as an ordinary medicine, so that it could be purchased at any pharmacy with a medical prescription. It was clear that they wanted to follow Uruguay’s example, a country that has been a notable model for regulation.

Context and the Current Regulation

It is true that although Puerto Rico already started taking steps towards legalisation in 2013, it was not until January 2016 that it set up a regulatory framework which made treatment with medicinal cannabis available to patients who required it.

In 2015, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro García Padilla, said in a statement that “We are taking a significant step in terms of healthcare, which is vital for our development and quality of life.  I am sure many patients will receive appropriate treatment, which will offer them new hope.”

His statement was meant to give the green light to the Department of Health to authorise the use of some or all cannabis’s controlled substances or derivatives for medical purposes. Jaime Perelló, president of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico, said that he supported García’s aims. “It is a step in the right direction. For the majority of patients, one of the benefits is pain relief.”

Thus, patients with diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, Hepatitis C and anxiety (including post-traumatic stress disorder) can soon apply for cultivation licences, which will enable them to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Alejandro García Padilla, Governor of Puerto Rico
Alejandro García Padilla, Governor of Puerto Rico

Minimum requirements for obtaining licences

A promise made is a debt owed, and in time this promise was enacted as law. Just last January, people were talking about the possibility of obtaining licences. Today, these licences are a reality.

To apply for a cultivation licence, the following requirements must be met: criminal record certificate, copy of incorporation certificate, statutes or articles of association, partnership agreement, evidence of authorisation to conduct business in Puerto Rico, evidence of no outstanding debts to the Treasury Department, statement of corporate structure, financial statement as evidence of ability to sustain the business, statement of the location of the proposed businesses, and a certification from the Municipal Revenue Collection Centre (CRIM).

Proposals for overseeing the permits include implementing a system designed to monitor the purchases made by every individual. The main objective is to provide a monitoring system and prevent the use of cannabis for purposes other than medicinal ones.

As for the small print, for now plans are being discussed to set up a single clinic, which will issue one a 30-day supply. As for dispensing to minors and in order to ensure that they will only be dealing with patients licensed to consume medicinal cannabis, they will require referrals from two different doctors, as well as their parents’ permission.

As for doctors, they will be required to take specialised courses. To date, hundreds of applications have already been received for such courses.

Cannabis will help Puerto Rico to emerge from the crisis

This is undoubtedly a bold statement, but many experts think the market for medicinal cannabis will grow and significantly bolster the state’s coffers.

The possible inclusion of a reciprocity provision which could enable medicinal cannabis patients from other countries to buy products from Puerto Rican clinics, could provide the country with a significant source of revenue.

At present, the adage for summing up the process under way is “easy does it.” It is up to politicians to take the lead and subsequently, Puerto Ricans themselves, in proving that cannabis can be the subject of a legal system with proper oversight. As always, Sensi Seeds will continue to provide updates on this issue.

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Where |Puerto Rico

Capital |San Juan

Inhabitants |3.548.397

Legal Status |decriminalized

Medical Program |yes