Pubdate: Mon, 11 May 2015
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2015 Virgin Islands Daily News


ST. CROIX - A decision by Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla - 
who issued an executive order a week ago directing the Puerto Rico 
health department to authorize the use of some or all controlled 
substances or derivatives of the cannabis plant for medical use there 
- - brought the question of medical marijuana much closer to the territory.

Government House spokeswoman Kim Jones said that V.I. Gov. Kenneth 
Mapp had no comment on Garcia's move.

Mapp has indicated previously, though, that he thinks that if any 
medical marijuana initiatives come forward in the territory, they 
should come through the legislative process.

Shortly after the executive order in Puerto Rico became public, Sen. 
Terrence Nelson said he was disappointed that the U. S. Virgin 
Islands wasn't going to be first to legalize medical marijuana in the region.

Nelson has sponsored most marijuana-related initiatives in the 
territory, including getting some nonbinding referendum questions 
placed on the ballot and decriminalizing possession of a small amount 
of pot. Currently, he is working on proposed medical marijuana 
legislation for the territory, after V.I. voters in November said 
that they wanted the Legislature to consider legalizing medical marijuana.

"I know there is a race for first in the region," Nelson said of 
Puerto Rico's move. "It doesn't surprise me that Puerto Rico tries to 
pre-empt or beat us in most initiatives in this region, particularly 
economic initiatives. I commend the governor of Puerto Rico in taking 
this bold step."

Later, though, Nelson noted the confusion surrounding what is going 
to be allowed in Puerto Rico.

Under Garcia's order, Puerto Rico Health Secretary Ana Rius has three 
months to submit a report detailing how the order will be 
implemented, the impact it will have and what future steps could be 
taken. However, a few days after the executive order was signed, 
Puerto Rico's Justice Secretary told the Associated Press that 
smoking marijuana for medicinal purposes in Puerto Rico would not be allowed.

Proponents of medical marijuana say that inhaling or vaporizing is 
the preferred method of delivery for some patients, as well as for 
certain conditions, such as nausea.

Nelson said he thinks that Puerto Rico may be "rushing to regulate."

"Before you really roll out any program, you want to be clear what it 
is you want," Nelson said, adding that he thinks it is important to be prudent.

"I'm thankful that they did it, but I want to be more prepared in our 
program," he said. "I want our program to be a more thorough rollout."

He also said that in his opinion, the territory should try to surpass 
Puerto Rico by legalizing recreational pot.

"We need to go full-blown, we need to not only have legalization for 
medicinal purposes, we need to also have legalization for adult non- 
medical consumption," he said.

- - Daily News Staff
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom