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Puerto Rico Governor Calls for New Approach to Marijuana

Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla used his final state address this week to call for reforming cannabis laws.

The island territory is enduring a crushing economic situation with high costs for food and is carrying more than $69 million of state debt.

Garcia is leaving office next year. He ushered in the start of a medical marijuana program in late 2015 in what was, at the time, a surprise move initiated through an Executive Order by his office.

“We’re taking a significant step in the area of health that is fundamental to our development and quality of life,” said Garcia in a statement issued last May.

In the February 29, 2016 speech Garcia lamented that a 2013 decriminalization bill was not passed. Puerto Rico has some harsh laws on the books for marijuana. Possession of any amount is considered a felony.

Garcia also looked further at full cannabis legalization from both an economic and social justice standpoint. According to anAssociated Press report Garcia said that regulating cannabis would “lower crime and target hypocrisy.”