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

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Coinstar Comes Through For Man Who Received Last Paycheck Of 91,500 Pennies

Things That Matter

Coinstar Comes Through For Man Who Received Last Paycheck Of 91,500 Pennies

After Andreas Flaten’s former employer dumped at least 90,000 pennies on his driveway last month as a form of final payment for his work at an auto shop, Coinstar is stepping up to help.

The company picked up Flaten’s coins on Thursday and rounded up the amount to give him a $1,000 check. Flaten had been spending an hour or two every night trying to clean the pennies, which he stored in a wheelbarrow in his garage.

They also made donations to two charities of Flaten’s choosing: two animal shelters. 

“Coinstar has been in the coin business for 30 years and we process approximately 41 billion coins annually – so picking up 91,000 pennies was all in a day’s work,” Coinstar CEO Jim Gaherity said in a statement.

Original Story Published March 25, 2021:

Quitting a job isn’t always easy, quite often one of the parties is left upset or angry. But the breakup of a Georgia man and a car repair shop has taken things to new depressing low. He was Paid his fianl Paycheck With 91,500 Pennies

Sure, the man received his money and it’s all totally legal but it still sucks the way that he was ‘paid’ and the Internet is rightfully freaking out on the man’s behalf.

Georgia man is paid his final paycheck with 91,500 pennies.

A Georgia man, Andreas Flaten, who had been waiting on his final $915 paycheck from when he quit his job at the A OK Walker Luxury Autoworks, was finally paid but not in a very nice way. Sure, 91,500 pennies are real and actual money but it’s not exactly a convenient way to get paid.

The coins, he said, were dumped on his drive way and also are apparently covered in an oily substance he suspects might be power-steering fluid. The coin drop was discovered on March 12. Flaten told the New York Times he believes the payment was taken as a punishment after he quit his job and demanded the company pay him his final paycheck.

Flaten said the pennies were delivered by someone who he believes to be a current employee of the shop at 7 P.M. ET on March 12. The load, which weighed more than 500 lbs., came with a short, obscenity-ridden note, he said.

It sounds like the auto shop is a pretty toxic place to work.

Flaten said he quit the job because of broken promises over when he could leave each day to pick up his child from day care. He gave notice that he planned to quit late last year, but left earlier after further disagreements at the job. When he did not receive his final paycheck, he filed a claim with the U.S. Department of Labor, which reached out to the repair shop three times.

Miles Walker, the owner of the repair shop told CBS46, an Atlanta TV station, “I don’t know if I did that or not, I don’t really remember. … It doesn’t matter. He got paid. That’s all that matters. He’s a f*****g weenie for even bringing it up.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Things That Matter

Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com