Puerto Rico moves to legalize marijuana for medical uses
The governor of Puerto Rico has signed an executive order to allow marijuana to be permitted for medical uses. Alejandro Garcia Padilla endorsed the move, which will come into immediate effect, following a lengthy public debate on the US territory.
Governor Padilla mentioned that Puerto Rico’s health secretary will have three months to file a report about how the executive order will be implemented. The order will also mean that some or all controlled substances that derive from the cannabis plant will be permitted for medical use.
"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, cited by AP. "I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope."
Medical marijuana can be used to treat a number of ailments, such as helping to ease the pain associated with multiple sclerosis, AIDS and cancer. Jamie Perello, the president of Puerto Rico’s Chamber of Representatives mentioned the move was “a step in the right direction,” and added “one of the benefits that patients say they receive the most, is pain relief.”
It is not clear at present which type of illnesses will receive authorization for medical marijuana. It is also unknown whether the drug will have to be imported, or whether residents will be allowed to grow it on the island.
"There are so many questions. We have to look at all those details," Amado Martinez, an activist who supports legalizing marijuana told AP.
The possession of any amount of cannabis in Puerto Rico has hitherto been illegal and punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. Advocates of the reform argue that the current policy has proved ineffective in the fight against the illegal drug trade on the island.
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