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Health Department Says Secondary Market of Medical Cannabis Could Cause 'Civil War'

As part of the review of the legal framework for medical cannabis, Governor Ricardo Rosselló has ordered that the Health Department study which conditions are the ones that will benefit from treatment with medical cannabis.

According to Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez Merced, the study is part of what will go into a bill to regulate the use of medical cannabis in Puerto Rico.

'Right now the only thing we have is an executive order and this is not a proper treatment, it worries me because it creates a black market for this substance', said Rodríguez Merced.

The Secretary said that the government is worried that the patients that have access to medical cannabis are going to resell it which, according to him, could lead to 'a civil war' for the buying and selling of the medical cannabis.

'As it stands, with the executive order, I could go every day to buy medical cannabis for my illness and if I am not using it every day, I could resell it and there is nothing in that order that punishes that. So we would have the people of the community competing with the drug dealers and that is going to end up in a civil war in Puerto Rico', expressed the Secretary.

However, the Secretary said that he is not against medical cannabis, but he emphasized that a tougher legislation must be made to regulate the selling of this product.

'This is a very fine line because the interstate transport of illicit drugs is illegal to the Federal government and the feds could intervene and arrest the people. Likewise, in the United States, there is also an executive order for the use of recreational and medical marijuana, which means that if President Trump decides to revoke those orders, it is over', emphasized Rodríguez.

The Secretary stressed that the government of Roselló Nevares is following all steps to create a responsible legislations and furthermore, a responsible and just law for the patients that have scientific proof to show that medical cannabis can help their health.

'We have to be very responsible, we can't let this subject get out of hand', concluded the Secretary.

Some bills created to address the subject of medical marijuana are HB 446, to establish a law that authorizes medical-scientific reserach of cannabis in Puerto Rico with the purpose that accredited universities can make investigations related to therapeutic medical use; to establish criteria and requirements for the people that will participate in those investigations; providing identification of the people to enable the restricted possession ofcannabis for investigative use; establishing rules and an the implementation of a pilot project with the purpose of promoting scientific-clinical investigations in Puerto Rico on possible therapeutic uses, establishing the validity of the pilot project and to assign funds for the operating of the project.

Also, HB 450, to amend Article 404 of the Controlled Substance Law of Puerto Rico, to change the dispositions regarding marijuana possession.

On the other hand, HB 370 to establish a process through which Puerto Rican people can express themselves in a referendum on wether possession of 14 grams or less of marijuana for personal use should be decriminalized, to allow restricted possession of marijuana for investigations related to therapeutic use, and to allow recreational use of marijuana fir people 18 years or older.

Health Secretary Rafael Rodríguez Merced. (Nahira Montcourt / NotiCel)