finance

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

13 Lessons From Jefas On How To Make Your Business More Instagrammable

Entertainment

13 Lessons From Jefas On How To Make Your Business More Instagrammable

Anyone can create an Instagram account, but only a few can sustain a coherent online presence and narrative. From individuals to companies, everyone is trying to find the golden rule of social media. We have found 17 authentic jefas from around the world (with plenty of Latinas, of course!) who totally slay their Insta game. They have created authentic brands around their personas that both wannabe influencers and established companies can learn from.

Gracias, jefas! 

1. Thou shall keep your color palette constant

Credit: Instagram. @ameliagoldie

Amelia Goldie is an Australian Instagrammer who has sustained a black-white-red color palette throughout the year and has become a real influencer in terms of fashion and style. Her slightly French quirkiness also makes her approachable. She is also honest about her personal struggles with mental health, making her approachable.

2. Thou shall repeat: “Fun is queen”

Credit: Instagram. @kidjess

In the old days of mass media people would say that “content is king”. Well, in the age of social media, when there are so many channels to be entertained by, good old simple fun goes a long way. @kidjess knows it, and is supported by almost half a million followers. She is quirky and has a cute aesthetic that is always on brand.

3. Thou shall stay true to yourself, yes Ivon!

Credit: Instagram. @bonboncherie

We love this Latina jefa that has gotten quite a following by being herself: a proud Latina mom. She describes herself as: “Wifey & Mom*full time 💑 🐶🐶🐶•Be a Friend*all the time 💛•Having fun*most of the time🎉•Blogger*part time📷 •Californiana de❤️pero 💯% #mexicanalltheway“. She is not trying to pretend she is a gringa: her aesthetics scream latinidad everywhere!

4. Thou shall scream: “B for Brown and Beautiful”

Credit: Instagram. @naturallykimmy

Kimberly Gomez is a gorgeous jefa from the Dominican Republic who is a proud representative of her ethnicity, she wears her Browness on her sleeve and we applaud her for that. Standards of beauty won’t stop being Anglo territory only if influencers AND brands don’t start exalting Brown and Black hermosura.

5. Thou shall take us on your creative journey

Credit: Instagram. @valerush

Valeria Gascon is a Mexican illustrator and academic who takes us on her creative and emotional journey as she expands her “fantasmitas” series, her flower girl series, and she studies her Ph.D. in Glasgow, Scotland. Her Insta is a delicia full of music, literature, plants, and nostalgia. Moraleja: whatever your brand does, take your audience on a ride.

6. Thou shall remain sencillita, no matter how big you are

Credit: Instagram. @anadelareguera

Ana De La Reguera is one of the best and most famous Mexican actresses of her generation. She has broken into Hollywood as well and she is basically a Mexican Meryl Streep in the making. But she has enough time and self-confidence to post pictures like the one in the upper left corner: look at her foodgasm eating that taco. No matter how big you or your brand are: humble is best, always. She wears her wrinkles with pride, para rematar!

7. Thou shall showcase the woman behind the product

Credit: Instagram. @brunelda_

Online presence is all about people. Brands that remain stale, faceless, are bound to have a boring and just meh online presence. Follow the example of Carmen Bruna, who owns a company of gorgeous invitations and other products featuring her watercolor illustrations. Her feed is a perfect mix of personal and professional content. If you are a brand, creating an attachment between the production process and the customer surely translated into loyalty.

8. Thou shall know that sometimes less is more 

Credit: Instagram. @nerya_yeger

Nerya Yeger is a fitness and vegan influencer who curates a gorgeous Insta feed in which she mixes motivational messages, art, and selfies. We love all the blank space in her feed. The white is a welcome relief in a sea of oversaturated images. La elegancia es lo que cuenta. Don’t you just love that illustration of Frida blowing a bubble gum? We can only imagine the impeccable taste with which her house must be decorated! Jealous!

9. Thou shall recommend a healthy lifestyle, but not be preachy, no suenen como madre enojada

Credit: Instagram. @lacoctelhera

Instagram is full of influencers who try to tell followers how to leave their lives, and to be honest that is not good branding. What is good branding is showing rather than telling, making healthy choices look fun and something you would actually wanna try. That is what @lacoctelhera does: just look at those colorful shots of food and the smile that this Spanish jefa has on her face, like all the time. Also, fluffy animals are engaging whatever your business is!

10. Thou shall sometimes do ONE thing, and do it REALLY WELL

Credit: Instagram. @succulent_heaven

Karen is a succulent lover and grower who curates a super appealing feed featuring the favorite houseplants of the millennial generation, full with tips, info on different species and photographs that frankly make us feel relaxed. Moraleja: sometimes diversifying your brand is not the best move. Do one thing and do it lo mejor que puedas. After scrolling through this feed we bet you will buy a pot, a small succulent…. and then you will have a new collection.

11. Thou shall give your fans/customers the place they deserve

Credit: Instagram. @lupitanyongo

Lupita Nyong’o is one of the biggest actresses in Hollywood. She has won an Oscar, acted in Jordan Peele’s “Us”, and been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Will all of this going on, she makes the effort to share fanart made for her by followers. Can you imagine the smile on the fans face when seeing the art Lupita shared? Y’all know she was born in Mexico, right? And that she holds a Mexican passport? Social media has made celebrities more approachable, but only a few are like Lupita: whatever she posts feels authentic, unredacted and from the heart. Lupita, hermana, eres mexicana! 

12. Thou shall create a unique and irreplaceable style

Credit: Instagram. @margaretzhang

Margaret Zhang is a Chinese-Australian fashion powerhouse who has made a name for herself in the upper echelons of the industry. She is an art director for top brands and has moved permanently to New York. Her style is a combination of French chic and the visual aesthetics of Asian filmmakers such as Wong Kar-Wai (by the way, Quentin Tarantino’s hero). The takeaway: be like her, strive to find a unique style that can be translated into different media. Anything can be relevant, even a plate of food, if presented in a way that adds to a coherent visual and emotional narrative.

13. Thou shall deliver on your promise

Credit: Instagram. @nomvelo.c

Nomvelo Chalumbria is a South African young woman who defines herself as a globe trotter. And she delivers: her Insta is full of pictures from around the world, but also of the amazing original owners of what is now South Africa. She seems to always have her feet on a plane and one foot at home but firmly grounded in her cultural roots. Do yourself a favor and follow her for her bubbly personality.

Bad Bunny And Ricky Martin Killed A ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill In Puerto Rico Furthering LGBTQ+ Rights In The Caribbean

Things That Matter

Bad Bunny And Ricky Martin Killed A ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill In Puerto Rico Furthering LGBTQ+ Rights In The Caribbean

badbunnypr / ricardorossello / ricky_martin / Instagram

Governors in the U.S. have tried and failed multiple times to enshrine discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community by passing “religious freedom” bills. At the heart of these bills is the idea that someone’s religion is enough to discriminate against those of different faiths, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Puerto Rico tried to follow the same failed path as Indiana and the backlash was swift and victorious after Ricky Martin and Bad Bunny (Benito Martinez) spoke out against the bill forcing Governor Ricardo Rosselló to backtrack on his bill to discriminate.

In April, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rosselló presented the Puerto Rican House of Representatives a “religious freedom” bill.

Credit: @lgbtpr / Twitter

The bill was months in the making and Gov. Rosselló showed his full support for the bill, House Bill 2069. The bill would have allowed for government employees to openly discriminate against people who went against their religious beliefs.

Ricky Martin spoke up against the measure and called out the Puerto Rican government and their willingness to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

“While the world calls for equality, respect for diversity and the defense of human rights, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the Governor of Puerto Rico are pushing for a measure that goes against all of the above and it encourages division, prejudice, hatred and the lack of respect for individuality,” Martin wrote on his fan website. “It does so under a premise that undermines the constitutional protections against discrimination on the basis of race, sex or belief, and in its place, justifies an irrational protection of the religious convictions of government employees.”

“As a member of the LGBTT community, I join the constituency that affirms that there has never been a willingness among our LGBTT people to allow for the validation or legalization of discrimination against us.”

“House Bill 2069, filed at the request of Governor Ricardo Rosselló and promoted by Representative Charbonier, achieve nothing more than opening the doors to hatred towards anyone who doesn’t share the same ideology, who simply belong to the LGBTT community, or who don’t  have the same color skin, amidst many other discriminatory measures.”

“Authentic religious freedom calls for respecting everyone equally.”

Bad Bunny also used his platform to stand up for the LGBTQ+ community in Puerto Rico.

Credit: badbunnypr / Instagram

“While we ‘bad guys’ do out to unite people and try to send a message of respect and tolerance, the leaders of my country work to do the opposite,” he wrote on Instagram. “We cannot take steps backwards, NEVER! @ricardorossello you make excellent coffee, I know that you can also make an excellent decision.”

Calle 13’s Residente joined his Puerto Rican peers to call out the Puerto Rican government’s wishes to strip LGBTQ+ people of their humanity with the law.

These calls against the action came during Pride month when the U.S. is supposed to be celebrating and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community, which still faces discrimination and violence.

After the outcry, Gov. Rosselló reversed his support for the bill and ordered the Puerto Rican House of Representatives to shelf the bill.

Credit: @ricky_martin / Twitter

“WE WON! The recent years, Western countries have made significant advances in guaranteeing equal right for the LGBTT community,” Martin tweeted.

Martin celebrated the decision by educating his followers about what the measure would mean for the LGBTQ+ community.

Credit: @ricky_martin / Twitter

“These advances were threatened recently in Puerto Rico, where the House fo Representatives passed legislation that endangered the progress won in the last decade and risked feeding the division, prejudice, and tensions between the communities.”

He did not sugar coat the true meaning behind the legislation.

Credit: @ricky_martin / Twitter

“By granting government employees the power to act in accordance with their religious convictions, personal values, and principles, this regressive legislation would have sanctioned the practice of institutional discrimination on the part of those who committed themselves to a life in public service.”

Congratulations, Ricky!

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

It just goes to show that enough public outcry can make politicians listen to the majority instead of the vocal minority.

READ: After Delay Caused By Border Wall And Trump’s Feud with Puerto Rico, Congress Finally Passes $19.1 Billion Disaster Aid Package

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