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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Bill filed to legalize marijuana for recreational use

Rep. Héctor Ferrer Santiago

By The Star Staff

The use of marijuana for recreational use could be legalized in Puerto Rico if legislation introduced by at-large Popular Democratic Party Rep. Héctor Ferrer Santiago becomes law.

The bill decriminalizes and regulates the use of marijuana among adults and would strengthen the mechanisms to reduce its reach for minors. It would prohibit smoking cannabis in public places and would regulate cannabis production, the freshman lawmaker said.

“It is urgent for Puerto Rico to enter the 21st century. There is no doubt that this bill will allow Puerto Rico to create an economic niche that currently does not exist in the Caribbean,” Ferrer Santiago said. “Meanwhile, it will create a new industry, will produce well-paying jobs, promote government savings and provide new income for the government through the creation of the Cannabis Social Impact and Research Fund (FISIC), which would be used for pensions, the University of Puerto Rico, and the municipalities, among other uses.”

A current study on the commercial impact of cannabis in Puerto Rico estimates that sales of cannabis for adult use in its first year would amount to $522 million.

“This legislation was drafted looking at the successes and failures of other jurisdictions in the United States and in the world so that Puerto Rico can have an advanced regulatory framework,” Ferrer Santiago said. “The war on drugs has failed. Difficult times deserve ideas and solutions that are different from those of the past and it is time for us in the Legislative Assembly to take affirmative steps.”

The bill is clear in that it prohibits the consumption of cannabis in public places, so it will only be allowed in homes and private places. Sales of the product will be allowed only in authorized dispensaries and dispensing for controlled adult use will be limited to 28 grams of cannabis, or 8 grams of THC in the concentrated products, or 800 milligrams of THC in edible products.

The proposed law contains penalties for dispensaries that do not comply with the law. Any person who possesses the amount designated for personal consumption of cannabis that does not come from a dispensary will incur an administrative fine of $500, and the police officer who performs the intervention will be obligated to refer the individual to the Mental Health Services Administration for addiction treatment.

The decriminalization of cannabis is recognized when the conviction is for an amount equal to or less than an amount for personal consumption, but the decriminalization will be retroactive.

“This is an issue that we cannot continue to evade,” the legislator said. “The time has come to temper the legislation to the current social reality. That is why today I invite my colleagues to courageously take on the challenges that are presented to us and work on this legislation with the maturity and responsibility that it deserves.”

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