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

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In The First Episode Of FIERCE’s ‘Money Moves,’ We Explore The All-Important Budget

Fierce

In The First Episode Of FIERCE’s ‘Money Moves,’ We Explore The All-Important Budget

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Finances can be hard. A lot of us were never told how to properly budget because our families weren’t equipped. Fortunately, in the 21st century, we can connect electronically with other Latinos and Latinas who are making money moves. In the first episode of FIERCE’s “Money Moves,” we talked with Beatriz Acevedo, CEO and founder of We Are Suma, a new financial literacy media company.

We Are Suma is a new company that wants to teach you how to make the most of your money.

Financial literacy is so important in creating generational wealth. It is an important step to being financially comfortable. CEO and founder of We Are Suma Beatriz Acevedo wants to help all Latinos and Latinas reach their financial goals. The most important place to start is creating a good and manageable budget. We sat down and spoke with her about what to do to make that happen. Here are some of her insights.

Sam: What would you recommend in terms of knowing what I need to get financially fit?

Beatriz Acevedo: Well, listen. Because we are here in a group of Latinas, like I said earlier, there’s certainly a lot of particularly incredible, amazing Latinas that do these seminars and these course. I have made my list of the ones that we already work with and really love. One that we have as our Latina in residence right now giving us a lot of this coaching is Jen Hemphill and she has a podcast called ‘Her Dinero Matters.’ So constantly, if you follow them, they have their social media, they have the things that they do. We mentioned Julie from Investing Latina that you guys will have on. Also, she does these seminars where they are made for our community. It just doesn’t feel as dry as when you read content or you go to a class and are like, ‘Oh my god. I feel so out of place here with the words that they are using the expectation that i already know this.’ No. This if for our community by our community. Latina Money. We’ve done some collaborations with her as well for equal pay. She’s awesome. Snowball Wealth. If you have student debt, they definitely specialize. Dana is your girl who specializes in how can you lower that. How can you start paying off your student debt?

All these are amazing Latinas that want to support our community and what they do every day is that. Obviously for us at We Are Suma, we do it in a very fun pop culture kind of way as well. So, five years ago if you asked me this question, I’d be like, ‘I don’t know.’ Today, there are so many resources and just with the ones that I mentioned that you guys can find right here on Instagram.

All of those resources are great. They’re easy to understand and again they’re made my women in our community so they understand where we came from and they understand that we did not have those conversations growing up, that we’re going to need to catch up.

S: What should they take a look at when creating a budget? Is it kind of like consolidating everything that they have and writing down a list?

BA: It’s a very easy thing to do nowadays. I remember when my dad would always tell my mom, ‘¿Donde esta el presupuesto?’ He knew that el presupuesto was very important because my mom and I are enthusiasts of la Marshalls y la Ross. Like, ‘Look, it’s only $9.99.” But, then, they can add up. So, I remember her so vividly in the kitchen, the poor woman, doing these budgets for my dad or for the household in these yellow pads. She was like, Food and this and Gas and all of this other stuff and adding it up. Nowadays, it’s so easy. there are so many apps that you can use. Even from the resources from all of these other Latinas that I mentioned earlier, some of them have these.

I know Snowball has one of these and I’m sure most of them do. It’s free tools where you can go in and you plug in and it helps you to track all of your expenses. There’s also very sophisticated apps that I like to use and it is the preference of people that very easily let you see how much do you make. It’s very important to know how much you make. You make a budget for $10,000 and you make $5,000, that’s not gong to work out, even if you have a beautiful budget.

S: Could you share some of the apps that you personally use or that you would recommend?

BA: Mint is the most popular one from all of the surveys. People really love it. I’ve never used Mint personally, but it must be great because people love it, and is the overall best one. I use PocketGuard. I don’t know how I discovered it or why, but I like it and that keeps you from overspending. It’s almost like, ‘Oh, you’ve reached this. Or you’re spending $5 more this month than you spent this month. It is always sort of alerting you. I’m sure all of them alert you if you are going over the budget that you have.

There’s one that people love that I just learned about that’s called You Need A Budget. That’s the one that people say is for the Type A personality so I need to look into that. It is on this principle of zero-based budgeting, which means that you give a job to every cent that you make. You don’t leave anything up to chance. Even if you are going to put something into retirement or to invest. You make $10 and your budget is at $10. It’s depleted so there is never anything left either under or over that could be a great area. A lot of people really like this You Need A Budget app that I still have to check out.

We were also talking about the envelope method. I learned about that a long time ago in my previous life when I was a tv producer. We were doing this show for Discovery channel where we would go into Latinos homes that needed almost a financial intervention because they were in bankruptcy. They had a mess with their finances. You would walk into their houses and they would have the most unbelievable TVs, VR sets before VR was popular. You’re like, ‘Oh my god. What are you doing, dude?’ I remember that our financial adviser at the time told the woman like, ‘Señora, you’ve got to cut off your credit cards.’ The woman was crying cutting up her credit cards but she had maxed out so many credit cards buying clothing for the daughter. The guy had bought all of these electronics. It was crazy. Then I remember that it seemed pretty prehistoric, right, because I was, ‘Really? You’re going to go put money into an envelope?’… I was reading that there is one called Mvelopes and that sort of mimics that but in the digital world.

Make sure you watch the full interview below for all of Acevedo’s tips to growing your wealth.

Make 2021 the year to become financially fit! You have the power to dictate what happens with your finances.

READ: Do You Combine Finances With Your Spouse? Latinas Answered!

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Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

Entertainment

Who Is Mari Pepin? Everything You Need to Know About the Puerto Rican Beauty Queen and ‘The Bachelor’ Frontrunner

As you probably know by now, a new season of the never-ending reality series “The Bachelor” has just started.

And this season is destined to be especially exciting–not just because of the promise of non-stop drama, but because the franchise has finally hired its first Black male lead, Matt James, after 18 years on the air.

And with the first Black “Bachelor” comes the most diverse group of contestants competing for the lead’s heart that they’ve ever had.

And one of the contestants that is capturing the hearts of both fans and Matt James alike is 24-year-old Puerto Rican-born pageant queen Mariela “Mari” Pepin.

On this season’s premiere episode of “The Bachelor”, Mari was immediately clocked by viewers as one of the front runners by the way that Matt reacted to meeting her. The former Wake Forest wide receiver was struck speechless by her beauty and couldn’t keep his eyes off her when she parted ways with him. It was obvious that Mari had made quite the first impression on him.

And because we love to see #representation on screen (and especially on reality TV), we decided to do our due diligence and find out as much as we could about this gorgeous and accomplished Latina. Here’s everything you need to know about Mari Pepin.

She’s Boricua–and proud of it!

Something that immediately endeared Mari to fans was the fact that she is so vocally proud of being Puerto Rican. In her first sit-down conversation with Matt, she opened up about how hard its been for her family to live through the relentless natural disasters that the island is going through.

She’s a military brat.

According to Mari’s personal blog, she spent the first few years of her life in PR before relocating to Germany because of her father’s military career. According to Mari, her unique childhood contributed to her love of traveling as an adult.

She was 2019’s Miss Maryland USA.

According to Mari’s official “Bachelor” bio, she began competing in pageants when she moved to Maryland as a teenager. She won Miss Teen Maryland and then went on to win the title of Miss Maryland. After that, she placed in the Top 10 of the Miss USA competition.

She’s wicked smart.

According to Mari’s LinkedIn page, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Towson University and she’s currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Marketing Intelligence from the same institution. It’s safe to say she values education.

She’s multilingual.

Not only does Mari speak both Spanish and English flawlessly, but she’s also fluent in French and American Sign Language.

Based on all this info alone, we can’t wait to see Mari Pepin crush this season of “The Bachelor”. Hopefully, this Boricua beauty will be popping up a lot on our screens for years to come!

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