Alejandro Garcia Padilla gave his last public address on Monday, as he is not seeking re-election in November. He has lately used his platform to campaign for marijuana reform in the U.S. territory. (Ricardo Arduengo, Associated Press file)

Puerto Rico’s governor goes bold, calls for legalizing weed in his final address

Alejandro Garcia Padilla says U.S. territory should legalize marijuana or at least decriminalize it, saying it would lower crime and target hypocrisy

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico’s governor has called for the legalization of marijuana during his last public address as leader of the U.S. territory.

Alejandro Garcia Padilla said Monday that taking such action would lower crime and target hypocrisy. He said legislators should at a minimum approve a bill filed in 2013 that would decriminalize marijuana. Puerto Rico’s Health Department recently adopted a regulation allowing the cultivation, manufacturing and distribution of medical marijuana.

Garcia spoke for about an hour and addressed other issues, including the island’s deepening economic crisis. He stressed the government’s $69 billion public debt needs restructuring and said key decisions will be made in the coming months that will decide Puerto Rico’s future.

Garcia is not seeking re-election as the island prepares to hold general elections in November.