Medical Marijuana

Puerto Rico Governor Clears Path to Medical Marijuana

[caption id="attachment_8731" align="alignright" width="231"]Alejandro_Garcia_Padilla_-cropped Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla[/caption]

On Sunday, the governor of Puerto Rico signed an order that will allow the territory to establish some kind of medical marijuana program in the near future.

Associated Press reports:

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said the island's health secretary has three months to issue a report detailing how the executive order will be implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be taken. The order went into immediate effect.

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

The order directs the health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use.

Garcia said the government also will soon outline the specific authorized uses of marijuana and its derivatives for medical purposes.

Lawmakers in Puerto Rico have been attempting to pass medical marijuana legislation for at least two years, so this is certainly good news. However, it is up to health secretary to design an effective bill that ensures safe, reliable access to whole-plant marijuana products.

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Tax and Regulate

Puerto Rico Senator Introduces Bill to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico has entered debate over marijuana. Sen. Miguel Pereira filed a bill last week that would permit adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, arguing that 80 percent of inmates are serving time for non-violent crimes and that possession cases cost the government money.

[caption id="attachment_6323" align="alignleft" width="226"]miguel-pereira Sen. Miguel Pereira[/caption]

The actions of the former federal prosecutor and corrections secretary roused mixed emotions. Supporters marched through the streets towards the Capitol building on Saturday in excitement, while critics called for his resignation.

Amidst the cheers and jeers were also voices of reason. During a press conference, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla stated, “I don’t have a problem with an open debate about the possibilities, benefits or drawbacks of such a measure.” Justice Secretary Luis Sanchez Betances similarly stated that the proposal opens the door for discussion.

Marijuana possession in Puerto Rico can carry up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

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Sitting Federal Judge Calls for End to Marijuana Prohibition

U.S. federal appeals court Judge Juan Torruella told an audience in Puerto Rico on Tuesday that “the only realistic alternative” to America’s failed war on drugs is to experiment with legalization, “beginning with marijuana.”

Torruella, 77, made his comments at the University of Puerto Rico’s law school, where he was a guest speaker for an audience of about 70 people, including the law school’s dean, Puerto Rico’s secretary of health, and many students. Here are some of his comments, courtesy of El Nuevo Dia (via Google Translate):

The judge said the U.S. goal was "a Drug-Free America by 1998", or "drug free America for 1998, prompting many laughs from the audience. […]

"The only realistic alternative to the policy (drug) is currently experimenting with the legalization of at least some of these substances, beginning with marijuana," Torruella said.

"I do not see how we can avoid the conclusion that the war on drugs does not only lost time but for some time that loss has had a high human and material costs," said the veteran judge who gave the example of the increase of deaths associated with drug trafficking in Mexico when the U.S. authorities allegedly managed to reduce the traffic routes in the Caribbean. […]

He said New Zealanders and Americans are the most who smoke marijuana (42%) in the world, by far, and noted that in Holland, where consumption is legal, only 20% use it. [..]

The United States remains "the source of insatiable appetite that drives this industry," said the judge.

Torruella sits on the Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeals. He was first nominated to be a federal judge by President Ford, and was elevated to the appeals court by President Reagan in 1984, according to the Associated Press.

According to El Nuevo Dia, Torruella cited a recent study by the Cato Institute, as well as “British studies” showing marijuana is less harmful than alcohol “and therefore should be legalized.”

This is the second time in less than a week that commonsense marijuana policy has been endorsed outside of the 50 United States. On Thursday, a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes was approved by the House of Representatives for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. Unfortunately, the bill isn’t expected to pass through the Commonwealth’s Senate, where five out of nine senators plan to vote against it.

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