LA FORTALEZA, P.R., July 9, 2017 /Weed Wire/ — Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares today signed the Law to Improve the Study, Development and Research of Cannabis for Innovation, Applicable Norms and Limits (MEDICINAL Law), which regulates the use of medicinal cannabis in Puerto Rico, in order to comply with one of the commitments contained in the Plan for Puerto Rico.
“The previous administration ignored the legislative process and, following an executive order, promulgated a regulation without due discussion with all sectors and representatives elected by the People. Those who argued that a measure like this could not be discussed and legislative support and the cannabis industry were wrong, they were wrong. Since this administration began, we have been working to create an effective legal framework for patients and the medical cannabis industry, by legislation and with the input of all experts in the field. This, maintaining the prohibition to the use of recreational cannabis and attending the worries of all the sectors involved,” emphasized Rosselló Nevares.
The president recalled that this law addresses a public health issue.
“As a scientist, I know firsthand the impact that medicinal cannabis has had on patients with various diseases. It is time for Puerto Rico to join the flow of countries and states that have created similar legislation. Medical cannabis as an alternative medical treatment, while maintaining all safeguards to protect the general public,” said the president.
During the signing of the law, the governor was accompanied by the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association (PRMCA) and several relatives and patients who use this treatment, such as the veteran Narelis Cortes who suffers from parkinson and fibromyalgia; Karla Santiago, cancer patient; and Josue Brenes, the son of well-known journalist Papo Brenes, who in life benefited from medical cannabis treatment to lessen the side effects of cancer treatment.
“The MEDICINAL Law will provide certainty to patients and all parties involved in the industry. Similarly, the law highlights the role of research and development of medical cannabis, which in turn will promote economic development, job creation and academia,” said Rosselló Nevares.
According to the governor, this law will bring important collections for other areas of Health since the sale of medical cannabis will pay the Sales and Use Tax (IVU), of which 10% will go to the Trauma Hospital of the Rio Medical Center Stones.
The president also stressed that the government has fulfilled again the commitments made with students of the University of Puerto Rico, since the law recognizes the University’s participation in research and development of medical cannabis and allocates 50% Of the income obtained by means of administrative fines under the measure for its operation. This initiative joins two additional measures signed by the executive this week to raise funds for UPR.
“This project was widely discussed in the Legislative Assembly and multiple public hearings were held during its evaluation. All the sectors – government agencies, industry members, patients and experts in the field – participated in the public hearings and a very healthy discussion took place. The final product of this evaluation is the MEDICINAL Law that today I am signing because it fulfills all the requirements that we were looking for,” said the governor.
The law creates a board attached to the Department of Health that will implement the law. This board shall regulate those matters delegated by law; this includes the issuance of patient and dispensary licenses, among others, the inspection and the power to issue fines.
Likewise, the board shall be entitled to allocate each year a portion of the income from licenses to the Fund for Services for Remediable Catastrophic Diseases.
In addition, the law permits expeditious approval for the use of the cannabis vaporisation method in the case of terminal diseases or when it is a suitable treatment for a disease.
“These provisions will be interpreted liberally through regulations to ensure that all patients receive appropriate treatment through the method that is effective without delays and that includes the vaporization of cannabis for medical use,” said Rosselló Nevares.
For their part, the president of the PRMCA, Ingrid Schmidt and the patients thanked the signing of the MEDICINAL Act.
“We are pleased that the governor has fulfilled his commitment to create a strong legal framework that will enable the long-term growth of the industry so that patients have access to medical treatment without major obstacles.” This initiative sends a positive message to entrepreneurs, investors and Scientists who already observe what happens on the island. We have the governor’s commitment and leadership so that the future regulation of the industry under this law is testimony to his initial commitment to patients and to economic development,” said Schmidt.