Is Marijuana Legal in the State of Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico has legalized medical weed for residents who have certain qualifying conditions. However, recreational marijuana remains illegal. Those who qualify for the territory’s medical marijuana program can only purchase cannabis in a legal manner from state-licensed dispensaries in places such as San Juan or Ponce for instance.
History of Weed Laws
The Island of Enchantment first legalized marijuana for medical use in 2015, when Governor Padilla signed Executive Order OE-2015-010, which enabled the territory’s Secretary of Health to allow for the marijuana plant to be used by patients with certain medical needs.
Shortly after, the Department of Health established Administrative Order No. 352, which began the process of developing regulations for cultivation, possession, distribution and research of cannabis for medical purposes, along with the oversight of dispensaries.
Governor Padilla signed Act 42-2017 in 2017, known as the Medicinal Act, as a means to replace old legislation and streamline laws pertaining to medical marijuana for Puerto Rico residents.
In 2018, Regulation 9038 was established, which included reciprocity laws with states in the US along with clarifications pertaining to authorized physicians.
The Department of Health completely oversees the Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana program.
Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Puerto Rico?
In Puerto Rico, a medical patient approved by the state can purchase cannabis at any licensed dispensary. Products available for purchase are:
- Oral drops
- Oral inhalers
- Transdermal patches
- Vaporization products
- Any other products approved by the Department of Health
Currently, it is illegal to smoke marijuana flower.
Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?
Puerto Rico law determines that consumption of medical marijuana is only authorized on private property, and if it is consumed outside of a person’s own home, they must have permission from the property owner.
Medical patients can legally possess up to 30 days’ worth of cannabis at a time. A day’s worth of cannabis counts as a single ounce of marijuana, or 8 grams of THC in a concentrate or edible.
Can Residents Grow Their Own?
Puerto Rico strictly prohibits home cultivation, which means that anyone who is caught growing marijuana on their property can face criminal charges regardless of their medical patient status.
Patients who want to become a part of Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana program must apply through the The Department of Health (Departamento de Salud), as they are responsible for regulating Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana program.
in order to receive authorization to purchase from an approved dispensary. Patients can be authorized if they have a qualifying condition as determined by the government.
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Cancer and chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- Chronic pain
- Degenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Hepatitis C
- Incurable and advanced diseases requiring palliative care
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe nausea
- Spinal cord injury
- Any condition that causes cachexia, or wasting disease
A patient must be diagnosed with one of the above qualifying conditions by their physician in order to be approved for the medical marijuana program in Puerto Rico. They must have a certification from their physician that will be included in the application.
How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Puerto Rico
To apply for medical marijuana in Puerto Rico, you must pay a $25 application fee. First, you will need to obtain your certification from your physician, which is sent through the registry system. You must open an account through the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program website, submit a passport-style photo and pay the fee at the time of applying.
Qualifying as a Caregiver
Currently, Puerto Rico does not allow for caregivers to be designated who could purchase cannabis on a patient’s behalf.
Puerto Rico does acknowledge reciprocity, which allows United States medical marijuana cardholders visiting Puerto Rico to visit Puerto Rican dispensaries to make marijuana purchases.
Puerto Rico has not yet established specific laws pertaining to lab-testing of cannabis products.