The San Juan Colorado Beach in Puerto Rico.

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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló has signed a bill legalizing a more comprehensive medical cannabis system in the U.S. territory, which will allow people with cancer and 14 other qualifying conditions broader access to medical cannabis products, MedicalXpress reports. The previous governor, Alejandro García Padilla, legalized medical cannabis through an executive order; however, Rosselló said the new regime creates a more effective legal framework for patients and the industry.

Rosselló, who holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, said the legislation “recognizes medical cannabis as an alternative medical treatment, while maintaining all safeguards to protect the general public.”

“As a scientist, I know firsthand the impact that medicinal cannabis has had on patients with various diseases,” he said in an AztecaAmerica report. “It is time for Puerto Rico to join the flow of countries and states that have created similar legislation.”

Additionally, Rosselló said the act “emphasizes the role of research and development of cannabis as medicine” which he hopes will promote economic development on the island. Puerto Rico is $74 billion in debt – bankrupt – and the 3.2 million people unemployed equates to a rate of 12.3 percent. The governor estimates the government could see $50 million a month from sales and use taxes from the industry.

Under the law, 10 percent of the proceeds derived from the industry will go to the Hospital de Trauma del Centro Médico de Río Piedras, a major hospital facing severe financial problems. The University of Puerto Rico will receive 50 percent of all funds raised through fines imposed under the new regime.

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