Hurricane Maria has damaged or completely destroyed many of the medical marijuana grow operations in Puerto Rico.
The people of Puerto Rico have a lot to work through. Many are still trying to locate family members and most of the island is without power. Even the basics like food and water are scarce for many of the island’s residents.
Medicine is also hard for many to access. And for those seeking to treat their ailments with medical marijuana, there is even more bad news.
“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,” said Goodwin Aldarondo, the president and CEO of Puerto Rico Legal Marijuana, according to NBC News.“You’re talking about millions of dollars of damage and we just started as an industry.”
The Puerto Rico Medical Marijuana Association is trying to analyze the total cost of the hurricane damage for the industry. The association was also hoping the medical marijuana industry could help at least provide some positive economic news for Puerto Rico. The island’s debt and financial woes are well documented and the hope was that marijuana could help stimulate their economy.
“We were expecting a lot from this industry,” Ingrid Schmidt, the president of the Puerto Rico Medical Cannabis Association, 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.”
But the situation for patients finally seems to be improving. For the first two weeks after the hurricane, only four of the island’s 29 dispensaries were operational. That number has now increased to 20. Unfortunately, dispensary inventory may not be nearly as plentiful with so many of the grow operations damaged.
But the marijuana industry is known for maintaining a positive attitude during tough times.
“It’s not only about the industry,” said Alexis Derrios, the dispensary manager of San Juan-based Caribbean Green. “It’s about people that need their medicine. Especially now that people depend on this medicine rather than pharmaceuticals. We don’t want to let them down.”