The Government of Puerto Rico Enacted New Legislation Granting Protection In Employment to Medical Cannabis Patients

Oct 2022
Sashmarie Z. Rivera López

On October 14, 2022, the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, signed into law Act 90 of 2022, which amends the Act to Prohibit Discrimination Against Persons with Physical, Mental or Sensory Disabilities (Act 44 of 1985), to establish that dully authorized medical cannabis patients are not excluded from the definition of individuals with disabilities.  Therefore, employees who are valid medical cannabis patients are now covered by the protections of the statute.

The Statement of Motives of the law acknowledges that Act 15 of 2021 already recognizes protections for medical cannabis users in employment under certain circumstances.  Nevertheless, prior to the approval of Act 90 of 2022, Act 44 of 1985 excluded from its application the active use of illegal drugs under federal law and active alcoholics.  Since cannabis continues to be prohibited under any circumstances by federal law, medical cannabis users were excluded from the application of Act 44 of 1985, although protected by Act 90 of 2022.  Act 90 was passed to avoid any loophole in the employment legislation that prohibits discrimination.

It is important to stress that to be protected by this law, employees must establish they are allowed by the Medical Cannabis Act (Act 42 of 2017), as amended, to validly use medical cannabis.  The Medical Cannabis Act, among other things, allows the use of medical cannabis as recommended by a physician for duly authorized individuals suffering from a serious health condition, as defined by the Medical Cannabis Act and its applicable regulation.  There must be a bona fide doctor-patient relationship between the doctor who issues the recommendation and the individual.

Act 90 of 2022 is effective immediately.  Consequently, employers should revise their practices and policies to ensure compliance with Act 15 of 2022, and the new Act 90 of 2022, while ensuring the security and continuity of their operations.

Contact our Labor and Employment Practice Team.

Alfredo Fernández Martínez

Sashmarie Z. Rivera López

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