Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
In 2015, Peurto Rico joined the ranks of many U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana. They revised some of their criteria in 2016 with the issuance of Regulation No. 8766, which updated and clarified some of their guidelines for patients wishing to get cannabis medications.
The Medical Cannabis Act has established The Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board (MCRB), a branch of Puerto Rico’s Department of Health that oversees the use, cultivation, production and distribution of medical marijuana.
Although the government of Puerto Rico recognizes the medicinal benefits of cannabis, recreational use is still illegal. The government considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, and those found with it in their possession are subject to felony possession charges. No matter how much you carry, the penalty could include a $5000 fine and two to 10 years in prison — even possessing marijuana paraphernalia is a felony.
Having a current medical marijuana card issued by the MCRB gives patients access to one of the medicinal cannabis establishments. These locations are where medical marijuana is produced and sold. The products here must meet high purity and quality standards to ensure they’re safe and effective.
When patients come to their medicinal cannabis establishment, they can receive up to a 30-day supply. As long as they carry no more than this amount and follow all government regulations, they’re free from criminal liability.
The first criteria patients must meet to apply for a medical marijuana card in Puerto Rico is having a qualified medical condition. The state has included several disorders and symptoms including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and ALS, among others. The required steps are similar to those in many U.S. states:
To recertify for Puerto’s Rico’s medical marijuana program, patients must get a physician recommendation that confirms they still have a qualifying medical condition. Then, they must submit their renewal application in-person to the MCRB at least 30 days before their card expires. If the patient brings it too late, they may have a gap where they’re unable to access a medicinal cannabis establishment.
To become a medicinal cannabis physician in Puerto Rico, a doctor must apply to the Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board and meet the following criteria:
To read all the guidelines and stipulations surrounding Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana program, be sure to peruse Regulation No. 8766. Although it’s written in Spanish, this document contains everything you need to know about medicinal cannabis use in Puerto Rico.
You can also check out the Department of Health’s Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board website for instructions on how to join the medical marijuana program, as well as all the forms you’ll need to apply.