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

Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

Things That Matter

Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

David Shankbone / Flickr

If it hasn’t already been apparent that Latinos are a big force in the U.S. economy, a new study argues that the group is the future for gross domestic product (GDP) growth. According to the Latino Donor Collective U.S. Latino GDP Report, which was prepared by California Lutheran University, the study says the economic contribution of the U.S. Latino community will become increasingly vital moving forward to the economy.

The study says that the GDP among U.S. Latinos made huge leaps within the last decade, up from $1.7 trillion in 2010 to $2.3 trillion in 2017. On a compounded annual basis, that’s the third-highest growth rate among all global economies in that period. GDP among Latinos also grew at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy during those eight years. This can be mainly attributed to high labor-force participation, large population growth and increasing consumer spending.

The reports highlight the strides and economic growth that Latinos have had in recent years. More importantly, it makes the argument of how vital this population group will be to continue moving the U.S. economy as a whole. “Latinos currently are and will increasingly become a critical foundation of support for the new American economy,” the study says.

It’s no surprise as the Latino population has made an immense impact on the U.S. as a whole in the last decade, whether its through education, socially and now economically.  

Credit: Unsplash

The study, which was released last month in concurrence with the L’Attitude conference in San Diego hosted by The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, argues why these advancements are now finally being seen by Latinos. This generation of Latinos is expected to make some of the biggest contributions in the coming decades due to being well-positioned than previous generations. 

During previous waves, most notably the during the ’50s and ’60s, U.S. Latinos were more likely to be immigrants who worked in low-wage jobs in positions like agriculture and construction, according to David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA and an author of the study. Now, as the population group has settled in and has made social advancements, the Latino workforce is expected to be very different.

As these generational gaps increase, so does the median age of Latinos in the U.S. which is currently 46 years old. While on the other hand, their children’s median age stands at 19. This essentially means that this forthcoming Latino demographic is set to enter a workforce more prepared, whether financially or educationally, than any previous one. That can be attributed to having access to better schools and being native English speakers. Latinos have also made huge leaps in the last decade when it comes to getting a bachelor’s degree as the number increased by 51% from 2010 to 2017, while the non-Latino educated population grew by 21 percent. 

“Given robust population growth, high labor force participation, rising incomes, and strong increases in educational attainment, we expect the significant growth premium enjoyed by U.S. Latinos to be maintained in the years ahead,” said Matthew Fienup, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University and one of the authors of the study. 

One thing is for sure, any success that the U.S. economy is going to have in the near future can be attributed to the advancements of Latinos as well.

Credit: Unsplash

Latinos are contributing economically now more than ever and this growth will only continue as the population does. The Latino population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, which in return has increased the group’s economic role in the country. Between 2008 and 2018, the Latino share of the entire U.S. population grew from 16 percent to 18 percent. Latinos also accounted for about half (52 percent) of all U.S. population growth over this decade. 

With a bigger population group that also means more people at work. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates than Latinos will account for an additional 30 million workers that will enter the U.S. labor force by 2060.  

This is all amounting to even more growth, socially and economically, when it comes to U.S. Latinos. We can only imagine what impact the next generation of Latinos will have on this country and the strides our people will have along the way. 

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America’s First Marijuana Cafe Opened In LA And The Reviews Are Sky High

Culture

America’s First Marijuana Cafe Opened In LA And The Reviews Are Sky High

LowellCafe / Instagram

This week, West Hollywood’s first Cannabis Café opened up for business. Marijuana retail giant, Lowell Farms, is opening up it’s doors in WeHo as a restaurant and bar, slash lounge, and shop, that offers the country’s first “farm-to-table experience for both cuisine and cannabis”. 

Unfortunately, none of the food will be infused with cannabis —but you’ll be able to smoke it or vape it.

LowellCafe / Instagram

There won’t be any cannabis in the actual food, because state laws prohibit the sale of food infused with cannabis. Instead, the dishes on the menu will complement the various strains of cannabis that will be for sale. You’ll be able to smoke your weed or vape it, and mix it with the food on the menu, kind of like you pair food with wine. Lowell Farms is a functional restaurant with servers and a special air-filtration system that sucks up and filters the smoke from the weed people will be smoking everywhere. 

Upon arrival you’ll be greeted by a “budtender”, who will be your cannabis guide.

Leafly

The budtender will help you on your cannabis experience and will help personalize your order. Additionally you will also have a server who will get your food and nonalcoholic beverages—there’s no booze for sale because of state laws. The menu has all the classic café offerings; salads, sandwiches, avocado toast, mac n cheese bites and vegan nachos to name a few options. Chef Andrea Drummer was inspired by the different flavor profiles in the strains of cannabis, so each dish will be accompanied by a suggested product to smoke or vape.

According to the LA Times, the opening menu includes “miso-glazed pork belly, jalapeño mac and cheese bites, vegan nachos, sticky tamarind wings, house-made pickles and avocado and white bean hummus.”

The cannabis menu though, is much more extensive. 

LowellCafe / Instagram

Restaurant director Kevin Brady compared the cannabis menu with a wine list, in that all products are seasonal and rich in their own way. Most of them will be supplied by the Lowell Farms organic cannabis farm in Santa Barbara—the parent company behind the restaurant, and they’re not cheap. A single-strain pre-roll can set you back between $18 and $30. And if you’re looking for something a little stronger, there’s also a “Dab Bar” which is essentially where you’ll find stronger weed for the experienced consumer.

The Do’s and Don’ts at Lowell Farms Café.

LowellCafe / Instagram

West Hollywood created eight cannabis consumption licenses. And according to the restaurant, Lowell Farms was granted the very first one —out of more than 300 applicants. Which makes this restaurant, the first business of its kind in the U.S. and as such, there are a few new rules set in place to keep things running smoothly. The café will be open until 2am with a last call for cannabis at 9:50pm —unless pre-ordered and pre-paid, in which case you’ll be able to enjoy your purchases until close. The space is 21 and older, and you’ll need to bring a drivers license, passport or valid ID if you plan on purchasing any weed. Oh, and payment for cannabis will only be accepted in cash —though you can pay for food and drink with credit or debit cards. You may smoke and vape both inside the dining room and the patio but not on any front-facing outdoor area. 

You’ll be able to smoke or consume edibles you bring from your own personal collection for a small “tokage” fee, similar to a corkage fee, of $40. Taking unfinished cannabis products home is not allowed, but you can take your food leftovers though. You can either bring your own bongs or pipes, or you can rent one from the restaurant. And you’ll be able drink beer or wine only on the front patio —once the restaurant secures a license.

If you want to take some products home, there’s even a little shop.

LowellCafe / Instagram

Resembling a dispensary area that will offer edibles, vapes, concentrates and buds. Another great thing about this café is that Lowell’s has made a policy of hiring people who have served time for nonviolent cannabis-related crimes (as advertised on a billboard on the side of the freeway: “Pot Offenders Wanted“). 

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe opens on October 1 at 1201 N La Brea Ave, with hours of 10am-2am daily.