Puerto Rico has made another leap with medical marijuana legislation, as the island’s government approved Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO), a HempMeds product, for sale throughout the American territory.
HempMeds, a company owned by the larger Medical Marijuana, Inc., an industrial hemp company, produces a range of CBD products, but for now, only RSHO can be sold freely in Puerto Rico. The oil will be made available by pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and healthcare providers.
HempMeds had its registration banned by Puerto Rico’s Department of Health just two years ago, under the law that CBD was, under the Controlled Substances Act, a federally banned substance. Cannabis is classed by the federal government as a Schedule I substance with no known medical use.
Technically, despite being not being psychoactive or intoxicating, CBD is a marijuana compound, and is therefore prohibited when it has been derived from cannabis. However, this doesn’t apply when CBD is extracted from industrial hemp.
Now, the Department of Health is owning up for their mistake to ban CBD. Back in 2015, Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order which legalized medical marijuana in Puerto Rico.
However, due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans have been without a working medical cannabis program since September 2017. It’s not the fault of government or lawmakers, but the infrastructure collapse has made things tough for medical marijuana patients on the island.
The medical cannabis system in Puerto Rico differs significantly from those that have been adopted by states on the mainland. There is a total of 29 dispensaries on the island, and each citizen permitted to use marijuana for medical purposes is assigned to a dispensary. There is one exception to this rule for emergencies, which has had to be enforced to satiate the demand. Hurricane Maria caused 25 dispensaries to shut down.
Puerto Rico’s government has been pretty punchy in its support for marijuana, despite the actions of the Department of Health. Governor Ricardo Rosselló went on the record, criticizing Trump administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his renewed cannabis crackdown.
After the Justice Department rescinded the Cole Memo, which stopped the federal government from prosecuting cannabis businesses operating lawfully in legalized states, Governor Rossello attacked the “lack of knowledge” of the scientific evidence on the medicinal benefits of cannabis, and the conditions the herb can help medicate.