Medical Marijuana to Reduce Puerto Rico's Debt

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Puerto Rico is about to welcome medical marijuana to the island.  The action, by executive order, could have potential economic benefits for the debt-ridden country. But it’s also recalling memories  of colonial exploitation.

Drug policy activist Rafael Torruella, who is based in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, worries the budding industry will mirror other industries on the island, where foreign investors reap most of the economic reward.

At this point, no medical marijuana is being grown on the island and no dispensaries have been authorized.

“If somebody’s going to grow it, it shouldn’t be pharmaceutical companies that they’re bringing in from outside,” Torruella, who is the executive director of the harm reduction NGO Intercambios Puerto Rico, said. “We wonder where the money’s going to go.”

In May 2015, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, signed an executive order authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes after an attempt to enact...

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