States are legalizing medicinal cannabis at an unprecedented rate. Most of these reforms are implemented through the traditional legislative process or voter initiatives. However, the way medicinal cannabis has been legalized in the United States territory Puerto Rico is fairly unique.
On Sunday, May 3, 2015, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order authorizing medicinal cannabis use. This move occurred following a public debate. The order specifically instructs the health department to determine how cannabis availability will be implemented.
Based on the Governor’s statements, it appears that cannabis will be allowed for chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS treatment.
“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life. I am sure that many patients will receive appropriate treatment that will offer them new hope,” said Governor Padilla.
It is encouraging to see a leading political figure take strong action on a desperate matter. The people who need medicinal cannabis do not have the time to wait for often-stagnant conventional legislative action. More states should consider using executive orders to give dying people access to medicine that very well could save their lives or drastically improve quality of life.
This historical action by Puerto Rico will doubtless contribute to further change through the United States and give inspiration to reformers throughout the world.
Photo: V.C. Wald / Flickr