Updated on February 27, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
In 2015, Puerto Rico joined the ranks of other U.S. states and territories when its governor signed an executive order to legalize medical marijuana. Although the country has since issued additional regulations to add clarity, its Medical Cannabis Act allows patients to pursue marijuana for the treatment of many debilitating conditions.
While greatly influenced by current legislation in U.S. states where medical marijuana is legalized, Puerto Rico has its own set of regulations. The Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board (MCRB) is part of Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, which oversees the medical marijuana program.
The MCRB not only authorizes medical marijuana cards to qualified patients, but it also:
The program doesn’t allow patients to smoke medical marijuana, but other methods, such as vaporization, are permitted.
Since 1932, the planting, importing, purchase and sale of marijuana have all been prohibited. This means penalties were enforced for any of the banned actions associated with cannabis, punishable by imprisonment or hefty fines.
Although residents in Puerto Rico have consistently been against decriminalization, attitudes toward medical marijuana began to shift as states across the U.S. started legalizing. Finally, in 2015, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla recognized the benefits of medicinal cannabis and signed an executive order permitting its use for qualified patients.
The order was clarified in July 2016 when Governor Ricardo Rossello signed Regulation No. 8766. The present legislation and guidelines are outlined therein.
The recreational use of marijuana is illegal in Puerto Rico, meaning those found with any amount of cannabis could be charged with a felony, resulting in incarceration and at least a $5000 fine. Patients should always keep their medical marijuana cards on hand to prevent legal action from being taken against them.
If someone wishes to become a producer of medical marijuana or open a medicinal cannabis establishment, they must fill out an MCRB application and await approval. This process may take some time, as additional paperwork is typically required. The personal cultivation of medical marijuana is still illegal.
The debilitating conditions which qualify for medical marijuana treatments include:
If you have a condition that isn’t included on this list, but also haven’t responded well to traditional forms of treatment, you could also be approved by a certifying physician.
Medical marijuana cards can be obtained by both residents of Puerto Rico and visitors who have a medical marijuana card in their state. Residents must follow this process:
Visitors with a medical marijuana card from their home state can go in person to the Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board to fill out an application and pay a fee to purchase cannabis medications while in Puerto Rico.
In November 2017, the Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board released the following statistics:
Patients can only possess a 30-day supply of medical marijuana. Also, smoking cannabis is still prohibited. If patients violate any regulations, they could be liable to prosecution.
Medical marijuana laws are changing in Puerto Rico and the U.S., and attitudes about cannabis are shifting around the globe. MarijuanaDoctors.com can keep you in the know. Stay up-to-date by browsing our extensive resources and reading other informative pieces on our blog.