Puerto Rico’s Anti-Discrimination statute, Act 44 of July 2, 1985 (“Act 44”), makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee with any kind of physical, mental or sensory disability.  This protection does not extend to employees who are actively using illegal drugs, as defined in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.  However, on October 14, 2022, Governor Pierluisi signed into law Act 90-2022, extending Act 44’s disability discrimination protection to employees who are registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis under Act 42-2017, known as the Medical Cannabis Act of Puerto Rico.

Keep in mind that Act 44 was intended to harmonize Puerto Rico law with the federal statutory provisions of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).  However, the use of medical cannabis is still considered “illegal drug use” under federal law and thus, not protected under the ADA.

Act 90-2022 took effect immediately after its approval.


Note: Puerto Rico already provided employment protection to authorized and registered patients of medical cannabis under Act 15-2021.   Under Act 15-2021, employers shall not discriminate against registered and authorized patients of medical cannabis in the recruitment, hiring, designation, or termination process or when imposing disciplinary actions.  These patients are considered a protected category for purposes of all employment laws.  
The content of this news alert has been prepared for informative purposes only and it is not, nor it is intended to be, legal advice, consultation or solicitation of any prospective client, nor a substitute for professional legal advice.  An attorney-client relationship with Voltaggio, LLC cannot be formed by reading or responding to this news alert. Such a relationship may be formed only by express agreement with Voltaggio, LLC.

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