Op-Ed: Clearing up provisions of Medicinal Cannabis Act
It is unfortunate that given the legal and positive development Puerto Rico’s Medicinal Cannabis industry is having, there continue to be obstacles and pitfalls placed on patients.
The Cannabis flower has all the medicinal components in its maximum power, so it is most essential in treatment, especially if it is a new patient seeking this alternative.
The flower has the terpenes and cannabinoids that interact in our body to regulate and combat any diseases. That is why it’s important that its use is not limited for patients.
We have to defend it. Many of these patients have already spent more than six months in treatments and you cannot change that overnight by eliminating the flower.
Article 5aii of Act 42 — known as the Medicinal Cannabis Act — describes the permitted methods for using the flower. Clearly, the flower cannot be smoked (as evidenced by Regulation 8766) but its vaporization is allowed.
The article reads as follows: “The Medical Advisory Body may, by way of exception, authorize a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness, or in cases where there are no other suitable alternatives or appropriate treatment and/or remedy, to vaporize the flower.”
However, even this does not apply because the Medical Advisory body has yet to be formed, so the industry must continue to be governed by the regulations allowing the use of the flower. In turn, this body must be governed by the new regulations approved under Law 42 — regulation that does not yet exist.
Furthermore, Article 24 explains that the current regulation remains in effect until the Board that will oversee the Act approves a new one. The Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board, not the Health Department, will ultimately enforce Act 42.
There are three important principles that must be followed to know how the regulations and the Act will be managed simultaneously:
- When the Act conflicts with the regulations, the Act will override the regulations, and it will be followed;
- The provisions of the Act that are subject to the Board’s evaluation are untouchable and we have to go by the regulations until the Board creates a new one;
- The provisions of the Act that are new to the regulations apply and enter into force immediately.
In defense of patients
Many people interested in helping and contributing to improve the quality of life for individuals and making progress in the island’s Medicinal Cannabis industry have taken the initiative to carry out events for patients.
This responsibility falls on the Health Department. However, companies have taken the lead given that government efforts are inactive in this regard.
Puerto Rico Legal Marijuana hosts the “Patient Congress” where we provide facilities so that people, regardless of their health condition, may have physical access and apply for their patient license in one place and at a low cost.
The Regulation provides that each event for patients is allowed with prior authorization from the Health Department. For our Congress, which takes place all over the island and is free of charge for attendees, we seek the Health Department’s permission, and they know what and where we are conducting the activity. We offer snacks, educational lectures and Medicinal Cannabis industry exhibits so that they can answer patient questions.
Similarly, the doctor working on patient consultations does so confidentially, checks all of the medical evidence, and fills a document as a medical record.
These events have helped hundreds of people get an effective treatment for their health conditions.