Puerto Rico Axes Medical Marijuana Proposal

By Paul Gaita 05/08/15

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla did an about-face on his own policy proposal.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla.jpg
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla Wiki Commons

In a reversal of his proposal from May 3, Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla will not legalize the smoking of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, patients in need of the substance’s therapeutic qualities may derive them from other methods, such as inhalants or oral consumption in pill form.

Earlier in the week, Padilla gave legalization proponents hope when he directed Health Secretary Ana Rius to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use. Rius would then submit a report that would outline how the program would be carried out, as well as determine its impact and future implementation. She also noted that the University of Puerto Rico is collaborating with two U.S. companies to determine the use and production of medical marijuana.

However, the order appeared to be upended, at least in part by Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda’s statement to the Associated Press, in which he said “smoking marijuana is not being contemplated as part of a medical treatment.”

Rius seconded the notion by noting that smoking marijuana remains a crime in Puerto Rico. It is unclear whether the joint research with the U.S. companies has also been suspended, or whether Padilla will clarify exactly what legal methods of using medical marijuana will be available to patients.

Had Padilla’s order passed, Puerto Rico would have joined the 23 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territory of Guam, where medical marijuana is currently legal.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.