Is Puerto Rico Joining The Pot Legalization Parade Too?

With little media attention stateside, Senator Miguel Pereira has introduced legislation that would legalize marijuana in the US territory of Puerto Rico. Also, activists for marijuana law reform took to the streets of San Juan this past 4/20 weekend to show public support–one of the first public rallies ever in Puerto Rico for marijuana law reform.

From the

Dozens of people marched Saturday through Puerto Rico’s capital amid growing support for a recent bill filed by a former police chief that aims to legalize marijuana for personal use, unleashing an unprecedented debate in this conservative U.S. territory.

The crowd marched to the seaside Capitol building, where Sen. Miguel Pereira filed a bill this week stating it should be legal for those 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The former federal prosecutor and corrections secretary said possession cases are costing the government money, noting that 80% of inmates are serving time for non-violent crimes.

His comments have polarized the island, with some legislators demanding his resignation.

“It’s outrageous that someone who was elected by the people tries to use his position to cause addiction, sicken and destroy Puerto Rican society,” Sen. Itzamar Pena said.

Critics say the proposal would further fuel violence on an island of 3.7 million people that reported a record 1,117 killings in 2011, with police saying that 70% of killings are drug-related. Others expressed concern that police, teachers and doctors would smoke while working.

“This measure has to be studied extremely carefully,” Sen. José Perez Rosa said. “It’s not like alcohol, where acceptable levels (of use) exist.”

Currently, those charged with marijuana possession can face up to three years in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Justice Secretary Luis Sánchez Betances did not say whether he favored Pereira’s measure, but he said the government should find alternatives to the current law.

“This opens a public debate,” he said.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla echoed a similar sentiment in a press conference this week.

“I don’t have a problem with an open debate about the possibilities, benefits or drawbacks of such a measure,” he said, adding that the issue is not a priority for his administration.

Last year, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize marijuana for those over 21. The law, however, bans the public use of marijuana.

Puerto Rico joins a handful of other Caribbean islands, including Jamaica and St. Lucia, where there has been a push to legalize marijuana use.

In Jamaica, government officials previously reviewed recommendations to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The proposal has the backing of several church leaders, but it has not gained traction on an island that remains the Caribbean’s largest pot exporter to the U.S.

In St. Lucia, supporters also have spent more than a decade lobbying the government without success to endorse a commercial hemp project.


26 thoughts

  1. And their house of cards continues to fall… Time is on my side indeed, they cant hold us off
    Prohibition is being ended by the People !!

  2. There has been talk of Puerto Rico joining the states…

    While that issue is a bit more complex than a mere, ‘yay or nay’, it does make things interesting…

    It would be very beneficial to our movement that if they were going to integrate with the US
    IF they legalized cannabis prior to

    Cannabis Libre!

  3. Pot is nowhere near as dangerous as alcohol, and alcohol is so accepted. Its all about whats glorified in the news, or villified. Legalizing cannabis might curb the murder rate in PR, while providing jobs, and bringing tax money to the island. Yes, its the right thing to do. QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO!!

  4. The recent ruling written by Justice Sotomayor was a game changer. It shows that if Congress doesn’t compromise on marijuana policy before 2014 it will end up in a 7-2 pro-marijuana Supreme Court.
    But all the while, we’re missing the root of evil in prohibition: Cops, the DEA, have been allowed to write marijuana law for the last 40 years. The Controlled Substance Act is unconstitutional. Please sign my first and only white house petition to end the made-to-fail drug wars, end prohibition, and bring the balance back to the three branches of government like an American Democracy should.
    Here is the link to sign now;
    Thanks NORMAL!
    Don’t forget to donate to the best organization for the greatest civil rights issue of our time; marijuana legalization.

  5. I’ve been to Puerto Rico. It’s a magnificent place. I hope they do legalize cannabis and I’m glad that they’re having that discussion.

  6. This is likely about tourism….Colorado ski resorts will likely see a marked increase in skiing visitors who don’t want to be harassed by moron cops in other areas such as Tahoe or NM…These states will follow suit Me thinks as they don’t want to lose tourism dollars.

  7. Wow,Puerto Rico,18 or so degrees latitude above the equator,same as northern Thailand or southern India.It looks like a tropical “sweet spot” Coffee,bananas,mangos,papaya’s, coconuts you name it…It could be a tropical paradise in the Caribbean, if it wasn’t for certain a-holes.other than that,”it must be nice…

  8. Fed-Up…No, Puerto Rico is not that close to the equator. Comparisons to Thailand and southern India arent appropriate.Let me educate your obviously confused little mind. America claimed Puerto Rico from Spain after the spanish-american war in 1898. Puerto Rico is in a very strategic location, which is why America claimed this 35 X 100 mile island. All ppl born in PR are Americam citizens. English is taught in all high schools. The indigenious ppl there were the Taino,which were all killed off by spain, then england, and others. And Im fed up with all the ignorance in my supposedly well educated America.

  9. Well Pedro maybe you might learn a little more about your own people… Because the Spanish did not kill off the Tainos, but they are/were such assholes they wrote in their history books that they did as way of self-promotion. The peoples of the DR and PR are a mixture of Taino and Spanish. Maybe Puerto Ricans have a little less Taino and more Spanish influence than Dominacanos. But why write some crazy shit like, ‘we killed ’em all off’, like that was a national goal or something??? Marriage is a death sentence in Spain? WTF?

  10. “Pedro” cries out about ignorance but states the “tainos are all dead” which untrue. The taino genetics in genetic studies has proven to bc between 25 – 45% of the makeup of the people. Puerto is a colony militariily invaded by the USA and occupied by the USA. USA out of Puerto Rico and legalize marijuana in the independent country of Puerto Rico.

  11. Pedro,My comparison’s with Puerto Rico to Thailand and India had nothing to do with cultures,religions or ethnicities or anything political either.I was comparing those countries with the latitude they all share and the kind of crops that grow well there.With the latitude being the same, the sun is going to rise and set at the same time,but,
    depending on other factors like, altitude and distance from the water,(oceans or sea’s),mountain geographies-south-north-east- and western facing slopes-all create different microclimates,but they are basically the same.Portugal and northern California share the same kind of mediterranean climates on their westcoast, for example. Vineyards,apricot’s,citrus all grow similarly even though they are ocean’s and continents away from each other,get what i am saying now? And when i was referring to certain a-hole’s i was talking about ‘pot prohibitionist,but you can find those in any country i suppose.

    Cheers,and my best wishes for the beautiful island of Puerto Rico and it’s people.

  12. Dave Evans… My “own people” are not in Puerto Rico. Contrary to the images you see on TV, my great grandparents came to NYC in 1920. They came in by ship through the NY harbor. (only European immigrants had to go through Ellis island to get fumigated, etc.) So “my people”, other than family, is other NYers, and other Americans. (back later)

  13. Dave Evans…The Taino lived throughout the carribean-PR, Dom Rep and Haiti, Cuba, even Jamaica. The African slaves that Spain and England brought over is seen throughout the carribean, but especially in Dom Rep, Haiti, and Jamaica. Ive visited PR all my life and it is absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. The hotels are nice, but if you know the more hidden places, you’ll be blown away! One of my favorite places is El Yunque, the rainforest. Its actually a USA national park. (I never puffed there, but if its legalized, that would be one of the best places to puff and just be a part of the incredible surroundings.) WE THE PEOPLE DEMAND LEGALIZATION! Peace to all.

  14. The Taino were indigenous throughout the Caribbean. Spain, England, and others killed them off just like the indigenous ppl in America. My family line has Taino features, complexion, hair, nose, etc. We the ppl want cannabis to be legalized. God bless America.

  15. Puertorico should legalize I
    Lived there almost all my life police are assholes people are getting killed over bull shit drug dealers have all the power the best thing that a dude in power said !!! Legalize tax and let the people be free

  16. Some of you posters need to brush up on your history. PR is NOT an independent country; it is a commonwealth of the US,like Guam. Statehood is a distant hope, since almost half the population is opposed to it, and there have been quite a few plebiscites (votes) on this issue. Were it a state, it would rank right down there with LA and MS as one of the most backward, uninformed states in the union. And I live here full-time and I love PR, but the intelligence-reduction program is in full force and effect.

    Now, about pot: the likelihood of PR going the way of WA or CO is about as likely as pigs flying, IMHO. The Catholic church dominates here, the local legislators are a bunch of overpaid, underworked and ignorant a-holes. And progress is not high on anyone’s list. They are just so afraid of losing their “Puertorricanismo” that progress is at a snail’s pace.

  17. Hey Jeff Latten, why did you just insult Puerto Rico. Your comments are totally ignorant. You fail to mention how most ppl from the island speak 2 languages, eng and spanish, (eng taught in HS) Or that there just arent enough jobs for the people. College graduates working in mcdonalds, etc, and if theyre lucky, a job in one of the hotels. There are uneducated ppl everywhere you go, why bash Puerto Ricans? You said you live there full time, but you dont seem to know anything. Hate the nasty, traitorous republicans, not innocent ppl making the best of what they have. How effin dare you!

  18. Pedro Garcia Jeff Latten couldn’t be more correct in his observations. I was born on the island and moved to the United States as a child. My dream was to live in Puerto Rico and 2 years go I made that choice. Although nothing is perfect the government is about as corrupt as any Latin American government. He legislators get paid more here than in te states and do less. There is barely any professionalism or good customer service. Many people have an anti American mentality and I would consider pr New York in the 80s. That’s how behind we are. Things are still done by hand on paper. It’s sad. Many people don’t even know Puerto Rico isn’t its own country or that they have civil rights!! It’s shameful. This is why people are leaving in an almost exodus. And btw in a recent genetic study over 62 % of Puerto Ricans can trace their michocondrial DNA to a Taino woman. So much for the killed them off statement. You don’t truly know a place until you live there

  19. As for marijuana being legalized I highly doubt it. These people still think its like reefer madness or like heroin. They will call you a tecato if you smoke and judge you. It would be the smartest thing they did as it will surely increase tourism and jobs but those in power already steal enough money so they don’t really care about making Puerto Rico a better place.

  20. Its crazy when people who drink alcohol criticize marijuana. And many of my loved ones in PR, love their Bacardi…and beer, wine, etc. Like many ppl here in Florida, they have been brainwashed. Im not sure what it will take to correct their thinking, especially because there is so much drug-related violence on the island. Like Ive tried explaining so many times, its not necessarily the drug that causes the violence, its because its illegal. Sellers dont want other sellers to steal their customers. Pot should be legalized immediately. If you smoke pot, the very last thing you want to do is fight. QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO!

  21. Hola Annabella. okay first of all, many Puertoriquenos, LIKE ME, have Taino features. I am extremely proud of my bronze skin, hair, nose, etc. I was referring to the Tainos that were killed off. None of us can be pure Taino, but we are their descendants. We are at least Taino and Spain. Then of course France, Africa, and others. AND, I blame American govt for not educating Puertoriquenos about who they are, and how they came to be. How else can they know??

  22. Alcohol is legal, I don’t drink it!
    If weed become legal, I want smoke it!
    Legal or not it’s not gonna make people, who don’t like Weed smoke it.
    FYI. . One friend died from alcohol posing. .
    BILL I ON $$$$$ ??????

  23. Sen. Pena talks w/o knowing the facts about maryjanes. His comments of crime w/ drugs is only referred to drugs like herorin and cocaine, which is widespread here on the island. If a real poll was taken today, the percentage would be high in favor of maryjanes.This island is in dire need of jobs and i am sure loads of people would applied for it immediately.

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