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November 2022: Puerto Rico Disability Discrimination Law Now Protects Medical Cannabis Users

02 Nov

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Update Applicable to:
All employers in Puerto Rico.

What happened?
Puerto Rico’s disability discrimination statute (Law 44-1985), the local counterpart of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has been amended by Law 90-2022, signed by Governor Pedro Pierluisi, and will extend coverage to registered and authorized medical cannabis patients.

What are the details?
Before the amendment, Law 44-1985’s definition of a “qualified individual with a disability” excluded all active users of illegal substances, as defined by federal law. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, medical cannabis patients were not protected under the statute.

This exclusion appeared to conflict with Puerto Rico’s Law 15-2021, which created a protected category for registered and authorized patients. Law 15-2021 provides that an employer cannot discriminate against registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis in the recruitment, hiring, designation, or termination process or when imposing disciplinary actions.

With the new amendment, the apparent conflict has been reconciled.

For employees who comply with the requirements to be authorized medical cannabis patients, employers will have to go through an interactive process with the employee to determine if the user may be accommodated.

Importantly, the ADA does not protect cannabis patients at this time since it is an illegal substance under federal law. For employees in Puerto Rico, however, the more beneficial protections apply.

Law 90-2022 went into effect on October 14, 2022.

For more information, please see the links below:

Puerto Rico Legislative Measures

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above, review the protective benefits of employees who use medical cannabis, and ensure their managers and supervisors are properly informed to prevent possible discrimination.

Need help understanding how changes to employment laws will affect your business?

Learn more about how Vensure's Puerto Rico PEO services can help you navigate complex employment laws and keep your business compliant.


This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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