[JURIST] Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla [official website, in Spanish] on Sunday signed an executive order [press release, in Spanish] legalizing medical marijuana. The order refers to several US studies that show the therapeutic use of the plant in treating different medical conditions including pain associated with AIDS, glaucoma, migraines, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and other diseases. He further noted that several US states have already legalized medical marijuana for these uses. The executive order will authorize the Secretary of Health to intervene excessively in the reclassification of the controlled substance for medical use but added that a sharp distinction will be drawn for medical use versus non-medical use. A legislative vote to legalize medical marijuana had failed in the past. Upon signing, the governor said, “[w]e are taking a significant step forward in the area of health is crucial to our development and quality of life. I’m sure many patients receive proper treatment that will give them new hope and high expectations of life for these.”
The legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has been a controversial issue in the US with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. In late March Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman [official website] filed a brief [JURIST report] urging the US Supreme Court [official website] to throw out a lawsuit by Nebraska and Oklahoma challenging Colorado’s marijuana legalization law. In November voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana. In September the Pennsylvania State Senate approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed [JURIST report] legislation that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana. Last April the Maryland House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.