On Sunday, Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order legalizing the medical use of marijuana in the US territory. “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 Garcia in comments cited by The Associated Press.

Pursuant to the order, Puerto Rico Department of Health secretary Dr. Ana Rius is required to issue a report within the next three months on how the order will be implemented. Effective immediately, Governor Garcia’s decree instructs the Department of Health to approve cannabis and cannabis derivatives for medical use.

“Studies support the use of cannabis to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, HIV, glaucoma, Alzheimer, migraines, Parkinson’s disease, and other illnesses that often don’t respond to traditional treatment,” said Governor Garcia according to the PanAm Post. The order changes marijuana’s legal status within the US territory from a controlled substance to medication and would subject it to taxation.

Puerto Rico House of Representatives president Jaime Perello said, “It’s a step in the right direction. One of the benefits that patients say they receive the most is pain relief.” It is unclear at this point which illnesses will be approved for treatment with marijuana, and more information is expected when Dr. Rius completes her report.

PanAm Post notes that Puerto Rican radio host and political commentator Luis Davila criticized the unilateral manner in which Governor Garcia issued the order, saying in a translated tweet, “The legalization of marijuana is an inherent power of the legislature, not the executive.”

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