Puerto Rico is the largest of America’s unincorporated territories, and medicinal marijuana is legal on the island. Like many American states, Puerto Rico has a colorful cannabis history. It was banned in 1932 and remained illegal for over 80 years. Representative Jose Baez proposed decriminalization in 2013, but at that time, an estimated 70% of residents were against it.
However, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order which made medicinal marijuana legal in Puerto Rico in 2015. In September 2017, the devastation of Hurricane Maria rocked the island and claimed 3,000 lives. Puerto Rico’s cannabis industry, which was just getting off the ground, was crippled, but it is finally making headway.
According to the Puerto Rican government, the marijuana program could create 20,000 jobs and generate $100 million in tax revenue within the next year or so. More than 92,000 residents of the territory have an MMJ card, in a regenerating industry. If you wish to be part of this group, keep reading our guide, which explains how you get an MMJ card in Puerto Rico.
How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Puerto Rico
If you are familiar with the process of getting an MMJ card in any American state, this guide holds few surprises. As you can guess, it is a step-by-step process. In Puerto Rico, the Medical Cannabis Act established the Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board (MCRB). It is a body that oversees the use, growth, production, and distribution of medical marijuana.
The country’s medical marijuana law is known as Regulation No. 8766. Governor Ricardo Rossello signed it in July 2016, and it contained the initial legislation. An update named Regulation No. 9038 has made a few changes to the law. For example, a majority (51%+) of marijuana must be locally sourced.
Step 1 – Make Sure You Are Eligible & Make an Appointment with a Physician
PR residents and medical tourists are potentially eligible as long as they have one of the qualifying medical conditions, which we outline below. Next, you must schedule an appointment with an MCRB registered physician. The process involves the doctor asking you some questions about your medical condition. They will also ask you why you believe MMJ could help.
Doctors who wish to become MCRB certified must apply to the board and meet the following criteria:
- They must have a valid medical license, along with a license to prescribe controlled substances.
- They must have a Department of Health certificate, which confirms that they have received the appropriate training on the use of medicinal marijuana.
There is also an additional fee.
Step 2 – Visit the MCRB Website
Once the doctor has confirmed your eligibility, you must complete the application and forms found on the official MCRB Website. Up until August 2018, patients had to go to the MCRB office in-person to hand in their documents. These days, you can complete the process online. Register an account by entering basic information. It is a simple process and kes no more than a couple of minutes.
Also, when applying for an MMJ card in Puerto Rico, you must get the doctor’s recommendation certified by a notary. In PR, only lawyers are legally allowed to act as notaries.
Step 3 – Play the Waiting Game
After sending in your paperwork, you must wait for the license to arrive in the mail. You need to contact the PR Health Department if your sealed packet doesn’t arrive within two months (it usually takes 4-6 weeks). It is also possible to visit the MCRB’s physical address to obtain the MMJ card in San Juan. If you live on the far west side of the island, that equates to a 2.5-hour drive!
Step 4 – Buy Your Weed
When you have your MMJ card, you must now choose one of the licensed dispensaries. This is where you will obtain all of your cannabis. Medical tourists with an MMJ card can also use a medical marijuana dispensary on the island. While the process isn’t perfect, it has improved significantly in recent times.
What Are the Puerto Rico Medical Marijuana Costs?
The application fee is $25, which you pay to the Secretary of the Hacienda in Puerto Rico. In general, the cost of the physician’s consultation ranges from $50 to $150. It may cost around $35 to have the recommendation notarized. As health insurance doesn’t cover MMJ, the costs can mount up. However, for those who say that cannabis helps them, it is a price worth paying.
What Conditions Qualify for a Medical Marijuana Card in Puerto Rico?
There is a lengthy list of potential qualifying conditions including:
- Anxiety disorders
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Bipolar disorder
- Crohn’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Hepatitis C
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Spinal cord injury
If you have a condition that isn’t on the list, get in touch with a physician, and see if you are eligible.
Other Information on the Puerto Rico Medical Marijuana License Process
As it is a relatively new program that is once again finding its feet, there are a few things that prospective patients are unaware of. We offer some answers to FAQs to help you learn more about the MMJ process in Puerto Rico.
How Much Cannabis Can I Buy & Possess?
Dispensaries on the island can sell up to a 30-day supply to a qualified patient. There is little guidance regarding how much cannabis that equates to, however. Physicians determine how much that is for each patient individually.
What Types of MMJ Can I Buy?
At present, it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in PR, even with an MMJ card. As a result, dispensaries are not permitted to sell cannabis flower. However, you can buy the following forms of MMJ:
- Oral drops
- Topical THC products
- Transdermal patches
- Oral inhalers
- Vape products
Does Puerto Rico Have a Reciprocity Agreement?
Yes. Medical tourists with a valid MMJ card from their home state can purchase cannabis from PR dispensaries. They must submit to the same rules and regulations as Puerto Rico cardholders.
What Is the Age Limit?
The process we have outlined above is for PR residents aged 18+. Minors can also apply but need the permission of both parents.
Can I Grow Cannabis in PR?
No. At present, personal cultivation is prohibited.
Where Can I Use My MMJ?
Medical marijuana is only for use privately in your home.
Where Can I Purchase My MMJ?
There are now almost 100 MMJ dispensaries dotted all over the island. San Juan has by far the most, but there are other highly rated ones in Carolina, Dorado, and Bayamon. However, patients must choose one dispensary and buy all their products there. It is hoped that the government will change this inconvenient stipulation shortly.
What Are the Penalties for Breaking the Law?
As recreational use is still illegal, you will get into serious trouble if caught in possession of marijuana without an MMJ card. You must bring it with you if you have weed or else you risk arrest. Possession of any amount could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine. Illegal distribution carries a penalty of up to $20,000 and 20 years in prison.
Can I Assign a Caregiver?
No. At the time of writing, you are not able to assign a caregiver.