Although still in its infancy, Puerto Rico’s MMJ industry struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria.
Maria vs Mary Jane
On September 20, Hurricane Maria ripped through the island of Puerto Rico. The storm tore down homes, ruined supplies and killed at least 48 people. According to the latest data, it also hurt the U.S. territory’s medical marijuana industry by destroying equipment and facilities crucial to the survival of the cannabis plants.
According to Goodwin Aldarondo, the president and CEO of Puerto Rico Legal Marijuana, “big manufacturing and grow facilities have had their roof blown off, there is water in their manufacturing rooms, equipment damaged, no light for plants and most are dead.”
“You’re talking about millions of dollars of damage, and we just started as an industry,” he added.
Last year, Puerto Rico officials passed regulations designed to establish a medical marijuana program.
Some reports suggest that the medical marijuana industry could help pull the island out of its $74 billion debt. This prediction did not figure in the possibility of damages as a result of high winds and massive flooding.
The Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association doesn’t know the extent of the damage yet.
They say they are working to assemble those figures. The most these disheveled operations can hope for, however, is that the insurance companies are able to pay the claims. The federal government does not recognize medical marijuana as a legitimate business. Thus, none of the owners or investors connected to the industry qualify for federal assistance to help their businesses recover.
Final Hit: Puerto Rico’s MMJ Industry Struggles to Recover from Hurricane Maria
“The longer the industry is out of commission, the more the entire island will suffer,” said Ingrid Schmidt, the president of the Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association.
“We were expecting a lot from this industry,” she said. “It’s the only industry that was creating jobs, and a lot of hope was put into this industry because it was critical to the financial circumstance that our island is going through.”
There is a bit of good news, though.
Most of the medical marijuana operations have reopened to some degree. But only a small handful of these operations are able to dispense cannabis to patients.
It is for this reason that some of the rules have changed regarding dispensary designation, which, as of the beginning of October, has given registered patients the ability to secure cannabis products from any dispensary with product to sell.
As for now, all of the medical marijuana facilities are still reliant on generators for power. And the people desperately need all the clean water on the island to stay hydrated. This has made it difficult to irrigate plants.
But, despite the island’s lack of electricity and clean water, there are plenty of paper towels thanks to a recent visit by President Donald Trump. As Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana industry struggles to recover from Hurricane Maria, we can’t underestimate the power of paper towels.
Sadly, while the president recently promised to help the U.S. territory through the crisis for as long as it takes, he has since said that the federal government cannot help “forever.”
Trump also discussed the possibility of completely eliminating Puerto Rico’s multi-billion dollar debt. But now, that too seems highly unlikely.