More and more jurisdictions are partaking in the economic bonanza created by the medicinal, recreational and industrial cannabis industry, which is netting millions in revenue and has proven to be a driver of economic development, not only for the 43 U.S. states where the plant’s use has been legalized medically, recreationally or both, but also worldwide.
However, three years after the use of cannabis was legalized medically in Puerto Rico, the island continues to show signs of falling behind in the development of this industry, an issue tied, according to experts, to excessive regulation and improvisation by the state.
Although one of the first steps taken by the administration of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares when taking office in January 2017 was to create a law to regulate the industry through Act 42 of that year, the setbacks that keep the medical cannabis industry in a quagmire of uncertainty have been constant and appear to be a combination of a lack of coordination between agencies and branches of government, as well as pressure from conservative sectors of the Legislative Assembly that do not support the cannabis industry in any form.
The most recent incident that could be seen as a reflection of this presumed disdain and improvisation by the government regarding this industry—which offers an alternative to alleviate pain in patients and has shown great economic potential for the island’s coffers—occurred March 29, when the Puerto Rico Health Department’s Medicinal Cannabis Office issued a memorandum warning establishments that are licensed to manufacture and sell medical cannabis that they are not authorized to sell products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive component that can be extracted from the plant.
The Medicinal Cannabis Office categorically stated that establishments authorized by the Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board cannot grow, manufacture, transport or dispense products derived from medicinal cannabis. These include T-shirts, caps and vaporizers that do not contain medical cannabis, and “any action contrary to the provisions of Act 42-2017 and/or Regulation 9038 exposes the licensed establishment to be sanctioned according to the regulatory provisions.”
The order came just one month