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Will Hector Ferrer’s Marijuana Bill Actually Help the UPR?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

It is no secret that Puerto Ricans are tired of the recent working conditions of public employees. In the past year, we have suffered tremendous budget cuts that have lit a fire under the various sectors affected. On  February 10, 2022, teachers, police officers, and firefighters had a “march of outrage,”  protesting in front of La Fortaleza to demand better working conditions and decent wages. All eyes have been on the government to see how they plan to fix these issues before we lose all of our professional and educated citizens to the United States.

On February 2, 2022, a representative of the Popular Democratic Party, Héctor Ferrer Santiago, presented a seemingly feasible solution to the problem. He proposed a project that will create the regulatory framework for the controlled adult use of cannabis in Puerto Rico and use revenues for pensions and government institutions.

This project would decriminalize and regulate adult use, also ensuring that it strengthens the mechanisms to reduce its reach to minors and prohibit the act of smoking cannabis and its use in public places. The product would continue to be regulated under the same standards of production, quality, and sale as that of medicinal cannabis.

According to the representative Ferrer Santiago, “It is urgent that Puerto Rico enter the 21st century. There is no doubt that this project will allow Puerto Rico to create an economic niche that currently does not exist in the Caribbean.”

This decriminalization will create a new industry for an already popular product. It would create well-paid jobs, promote government savings and provide new income for the Government through the creation of the Cannabis Research and Social Impact Fund (FISIC). These funds would be used for pensions, the University of Puerto Rico, the municipalities, among other uses. There is currently a study on the commercial impact of cannabis in Puerto Rico that estimates that the sale of adult use of cannabis in its first year would be $522 million.

Due to the popularity of cannabis alone, this seems like an excellent idea to jump-start our economic growth. It would incentivize tourists to spend more money here, it would free hundreds of inmates that were arrested for non-violent drug charges, and would be an exceptional way to keep us afloat for the time being. This all depends on the accuracy of the estimated sale numbers, but considering how the marijuana industry is booming, even now when the process is a lot harder, I wouldn’t worry about that.

If implemented properly, this bill might be exactly what Puerto Rico needs to save public education. It would ensure a constant stream of revenue to pay public employees (such as teachers, police officers, etc.) and to maintain the University of Puerto Rico. While it could help us, it could also just become another stream of revenue to pay for our government officials’ vacation homes in Hawaii. The project’s success ultimately depends on the management of those funds by our government, which is truly out of our hands.

Hey there! I’m Alexandra, your local mythology nerd. Currently double majoring in English Lit and Accounting in the UPR.