A proposal for marijuana decriminalization of up to 14 grams of cannabis in Puerto Rico lost any chance of moving forward in 2013 after the lower house adjourned for the session.
While certainly a setback, the bill's sponsor Senator Miguel Periera says he will reintroduce the legislation next year.The bill, which would have also lowered the penalties for possession of between 14 grams and an ounce to a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of six months in jail, heads to a yet-to-be-determined legislative committee in January.
The decriminalization bill will be the second marijuana-related proposal before Puerto Rio legislators next year. Rep. Jose Baez Rivera earlier this year introduced a measure that would amend the Puerto Rico Controlled Substances Act to allow for medical cannabis.
According to La Opinión, a Spanish-language paper in Puerto Rico, Rivera's bill has substantial support in the house. Both bills may have a chance if passed through their respective branches, as Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro García Padilla Friday said he would welcome a debate on reducing marijuana penalties on the island.
But public opinion also could swamp the bills. As the Huffington Post points out, a recent newspaper survey in a major Puerto Rican daily showed the public would rather keep marijuana illegal, with 70 percent opposed to decriminalizing cannabis.
Currently, possession of any amount of cannabis is a felony, with between two and five years in jail and $5,000 in fines. The same goes for paraphernalia. Get caught a second time and you're in the slammer for four to 10 years and another $5,000 in fines.