A senator in Puerto Rico has filed for a bill that would erase charges for low-level marijuana possession. The decision was influenced by President Biden’s marijuana pardon, which was issued last week, and asked fellow governors and lawmakers to take on this mindset when dealing with their residents.
The bill was proposed by Sen. Jose Vargas Vidot, an independent, who commended Biden’s pardon while explaining that these types of marijuana offenses no longer made sense.
While the bill hasn’t been released, a summary of the new proposals was published on the government’s website, including the marijuana bill. It explains the bill in Spanish, claiming that the amendment would allow for the personal possession of the drug and would eliminate all penalties associated with the personal consumption of the drug.
Telemundo Puerto Rico reported some of the statements made by Vidot.
“President Biden had the bravery that many haven’t had here. Verbalizing that it makes no sense for there to be legal repercussions for the simple possession of cannabis. In Puerto Rico, we made the step to introduce medical cannabis but we lacked the bravery to decriminalize it. If we’re saying that cannabis has medical benefits then it makes no sense to criminalize the person who consumes it. It’s time to change that,” he said.
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Sen. Vidot outlined that the new bill would allow people to carry up to 5 grams of marijuana. This number would help lawmakers differentiate between personal use and distribution, which would remain penalized.
He also talked about drug access in prisons, a problem that plagues their institutions and that results in prisoners developing drug problems. “People who report that they weren’t drug users before their convictions start this process of consumption and addiction while incarcerated,” said Vidot, who is the first senator in Puerto Rico to bring the idea of decriminalizing marijuana to the table.
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Despite Biden’s marijuana pardon and encouragement for governors to follow through, senators and lawmakers will likely make their decisions based on their political leanings, especially now that we’re weeks away from elections.