Great news — it’s now possible to buy medicinal cannabis in Puerto Rico.
In 2015, Executive Order OE-2015-035 was signed by Governor Alejandro Padilla ordering the Secretary of Health to authorize some or all of the marijuana plant for medical use. This set in motion a chain reaction for Administrative Order Number 352, issued by secretary of Health Dr. Ana Ruiz, to begin directives for the possession, cultivation, manufacturing, production, fabrication, dispensing, distributing, and research of medical cannabis. Then, in July of 2017, Act 42-2017, The Medicinal Act was signed by the governor.
So how can you begin the process to buy medicinal cannabis?
Although adult-use cannabis remains illegal, Puerto Ricans who are looking to access medical marijuana can go though an application process. The process requires a fee that ranges from $100-$150 and anyone who is interested need only go through the following steps to be approved:
- Obtain a medical recommendation from an authorized doctor, which will be sent through the registration platform.
- Open an account.
- Create a request and locate your doctor’s medical recommendation.
Once these steps have been completed, patients are then entered into a database with the department of Health and are allowed to buy medicinal cannabis from their nearest storefront dispensary. Regulation 8766 dictates consumption location, which is limited to private homes or private places in which owners authorize the consumption of medical cannabis. Smokeable marijuana is illegal, however the following forms of consumption are allowed:
- Oral inhalers
- Oral drops
- Vaporization of cannabis flower or concentrate
- Topical ointments and creams
- Transdermal patches
- Any other means that the Department of Health authorizes
The entire process can be started online and a Spanish-language form can be found on the government’s website. There are many ways and conditions that an individual can qualify to use medical cannabis. A full list can be found on the DS main registration page, however a few examples are listed below:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Cancer and chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- Degenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, or multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Hepatitis C
- Incurable and advanced diseases requiring palliative care
- Intestinal inflammatory disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Spinal cord injury
- Another condition that causes cachexia, or wasting disease, chronic pain, severe nausea, or persistent muscle spasms
The Health Department maintains a directory of medical providers who are authorized to recommend cannabis for medicinal purposes. Establishments such as dispensaries, distributors, and manufacturers that are looking for licensing can do so on the Cannabis Medicinal site via the Department of Health. Licensing is necessary to participate in any type of dispensary business as either an employee or owner. Criminal history disclosures and background checks must be made when pursuing certain types of licenses. The Medical Act, Act 42-2017, permits dispensaries to dispense to patients with medical cards from other states.