Things That Matter

A Legal Marijuana Industry Might Be What Puerto Rico Needs To Recover Financially

Back in 2015, a year before leaving office, then-Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Padilla signed an executive order legalizing medical marijuana. Two years later, Gov. Ricardo Rossello signed the legal framework to make Puerto Rico the only Caribbean island to legalize recreational marijuana. Now, there are around 72,000 patients that have signed up for the program run by the Department of Health. Despite many legal challenges, Puerto Rico is seeing a financial boom when it comes marijuana and the cultivation of the product.

So far, $11.5 million has been added to Puerto Rico’s economy due to recreational marijuana.

Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, is seeing some recovery from the legalization of pot. Puerto Rico is also under extreme pressure from its $72 billion in public debt that has caused myriad problems for island residents. However, it seems that recreational marijuana might be the ticket to Puerto Rico financial recovery.

According to NBC News, Puerto Rico has issued 77 dispensary licenses and 40 shops have opened on the island. The government projections also show that cannabis legalization could generate $100 million in new tax revenue by 2020 and create more than 20,000 jobs.

In order for Puerto Rico to reach those figures, it will depend on the number of new patients. With continued customers and a growing consumer base, the projected revenue numbers are a true possibility.

“It’s a new industry with a lot of exciting opportunities,” said Puerto Rico’s pot commissioner, Antonio Quilichini, executive director of the Puerto Rico Cannabis Program and Regulation Board, told NBC News. “We are seeing more and more patients register; we went from 20 patients a week to 1,500. Patients are excited and are welcoming alternative ways of healing.”

Despite growth, there are still challenges that come with dealing with the marijuana industry that includes financial institutions.

While there is a lot of money to be made through medical marijuana, the plant is still labeled as an illegal substance. That means many financial institutions aren’t lining up to offer services just yet.

Banking seems to be the biggest challenge in Puerto Rico. Tu Coop, the only local credit union providing services to the medical marijuana industry, had to cancel credit accounts earlier this year. Banco Cooperativo, a larger bank overseeing the credit union’s transactions, stopped accepting their checks.

International policies, like the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, hinder banking institutions from accepting money from a business selling marijuana. This is one obstacle that has slowed the growth of the marijuana industry in several countries, including Uruguay. The bank institute block can only change if marijuana is declassified as a narcotic drug on federal and international levels.

Despite the issue being solved after a judge ordered the larger bank to reinstate Tu Coop’s accounts, there are still many hurdles to overcomes. If a few financial institutions will work with the marijuana industry then a cash business will be the only alternative. This only serves to make it harder to track numbers and can be labor intensive.

This is why lawmakers in the House are expected to vote on the SAFE Banking Act, which would let legal cannabis businesses to use federal banking institutions. It would also help relieve the tensions between federal and local governments trying to oversee legal marijuana.

What’s the future for marijuana in Puerto Rico? The sky is the limit.

Despite various challenges in Puerto Rico, the growing marijuana industry is bringing optimism. With a growing number of patients, more growers and more regulations to help ease financial concerns, the possibilities are endless on the island.

While there might be certain stigmas that follow the industry and the plant itself, the move to make recreational marijuana legal has eased some of those misconceptions. Only time will tell where the industry goes and how much of a financial effect it will have on Puerto Rico.

READ: Federal Judge Rules That Trump Administration Cannot Send Asylum Seekers To Mexico

The Pandemic Has Led To A National Coin Shortage Which Means You’re About To Have Laundry

Entertainment

The Pandemic Has Led To A National Coin Shortage Which Means You’re About To Have Laundry

Justin Sullivan / Getty

Laundry might be the least of your problems but the national coin shortage is sure to have an impact on you somehow.

Whether it’s happening at fast-food restaurants, supermarkets, or banks, people across the country are finding themselves cut off from the typical change in hand occurrences of the days before the Coronavirus Pandemic.

That’s right, be warned: coins are in short supply.

The lack of coins in the nation’s marketplace is apparently alarming the federal government enough that the Federal Reserve organized a U.S. Coin Task Force.

According to NBC, the task force will work to “mitigate the effects of low coin inventories caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Twenty-two members of the task force were announced last week on Friday and will meet this month in an effort to identify “actionable steps that supply chain participants can take to address the current coin circulation issue.”

According to an article by NBC the national shortage is a situation “born out of the pandemic, during which businesses that deal heavily in coins, such as laundromats, may have closed, while the fear of getting the coronavirus by touching currency may have spurred people to avoid physical monetary transactions altogether.” It is a direct result of state and city lockdowns which saw the operation of nearly 22,000 coin-cashing kiosks nationwide slowed down.

As a result, some businesses are cautioning customers that they won’t be able to give out change.

Others have rounded out prices to exact amounts. This works for now because paper bills are not in short supply. As of yet…

On the other hand, things might not be so bad.

🤑 We will pay you 1.05¢ for every $1 of ROLLED coins you bring us. We need everything you got! Make money with Money! 🤑

Posted by The Growler Guys on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

According to CBS Boston, some smaller retailers are opting for some lucrative solutions for their customers. A beer shop in Bend, Oregon called The Growler Guys recently told customers on Facebook that it will pay them $1.05 for every $1 in rolled coins they bring in to the store.

Trump Allegedly Asked If He Could Sell Puerto Rico Instead Of Investing In The Island’s Future

Things That Matter

Trump Allegedly Asked If He Could Sell Puerto Rico Instead Of Investing In The Island’s Future

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

It’s no surprise that the Trump administration has been full of surprises. Over the last 3 1/2 years, headline after headline have left many of us wondering what the actual f*** is going on inside the White House?

Over the last few weeks, a steady stream of people closely connected to the president – from family members to former cabinet members – have released books, given interviews, and spoken out about the commander-in-chief and many of the revelations are outright terrifying.

Donald Trump considered the idea of selling Puerto Rico in 2017 after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria.

Ever since Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico in 2017, President Trump has expressed displeasure with the U.S. territory. After trying to limit recovery funds provided to the island last year, he finally signed a long-overdue disaster aid bill before taking to Twitter to declare himself the “best thing that ever happened” to Puerto Rico.

However, according to a New York Times story, Trump floated the idea of selling Puerto Rico so he wouldn’t have to deal with the issue any further. Elaine Duke, a Republican who served as acting head of Homeland Security from July to December 2017, told the Times in an interview, “The president’s initial ideas were more of as a businessman, you know: Can we outsource the electricity? Can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?”

The latest revelation is just the latest in a string of attacks and disdain for the island territory from the Trump administration.

Hurricane Maria devastated the island – three years later it’s still struggling to rebound.

The 2017 hurricane season was one for the record books. And Puerto Rico was front and center in a particularly destructive season. Hurricane Maria struck the island and caused $43 billion to $159 billion in damage to the island and left nearly 3,000 people dead. The island continues to rebuild and that’s in no small part to the incompetence of both local leaders and the Trump administration.

In the wake of Maria, Trump and Puerto Rican officials blamed each other amid the island’s recovery, with the president faulting local officials for their management of relief funds. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz criticized the administration for the delay in federal response to hurricane recovery, prompting the president to target Cruz in several tweets, and call her “incompetent.”

Things got so heated that White House officials told congressional leaders and appropriators not to give any more money to Puerto Rico in November 2018, CNN noted. However, the Washington Post reported a relief fund of $17 billion was released in January with tough restrictions. Administration officials attributed the delay to corruption concerns, but critics said the postponement was political.

Trump has consistently denied any fault for his administration in the aftermath of the storm. The President has instead sought praise for his handling of Hurricane Maria, calling it “an incredible, unsung success” last year.

As shocking as the suggestion is, it’s not the first time Trump has floated similar ideas.

The idea of selling Puerto Rico – just to avoid having to put in any work – is so Trumpian that the allegation sounds extremely likely true. And the incident is hardly the first in which Trump has worn his “businessman” hat in the Oval Office.

Last August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the president, in conversation with top aides “with varying degrees of seriousness,” floated the idea of purchasing Greenland. The gigantic Arctic island, which is rapidly melting thanks to climate change, is a self-ruling part of Denmark and is definitely not for sale. Trump nevertheless apparently believed that Greenland could somehow be purchased. In fact, a 2019 New York Times article reported that a former official heard the president joke that he would be happy to trade Puerto Rico for Greenland.

For Dukes part, she believes that the whole point of Trump’s plan one to be mean. She tells the Times, that “There is a singular view that strength is mean, that any kind of ability to collaborate, or not be angry is a weakness.” She said Trump embraces “hate-filled, angry and divisive” language that distracts from the real issues. 

Duke is the latest former top White House security official to denounce Trump’s handling of the job, joining Kelly, former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and former national security adviser John Bolton.