A year ago Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana market, along with much of the island’s infrastructure, suffered crippling and lasting blows from Hurrican Maria.
Whole crops, entire grow operations, and other cannabis business were lost. Industry watchers said that medical marijuana had to start almost from zero, with the short supply leading to both a dip in quality and a surge in prices.
But now insiders say that the market is getting back on its feet, with more people enrolled in the program than before the storm, and prices beginning to level off.
“We are doing pretty good considering that we needed to start from zero after the hurricane,” Goodwin Aldarondo, a marijuana attorney in San Juanand CEO of Puerto Rico Legal Marijuana, told Marijuana Business Daily.
In order to come back from the devastating storm, medical marijuana businesses had to engage in new practices, such as building smaller operations which could be disassembled quickly in the event of another storm, and favoring greenhouses instead of indoor grow operations which rely on expensive electricity.
More than 54 dispensaries are now open on the island, with more than 90 total medical marijuana businesses in operation, according to MJ Business.
Popularity of the program has grown, with roughly 34,000 patients enrolled in the program, compared to 12,000 last year. Some experts predict it could reach 50,000 total by the end of 2018 (which would mean 1,000 patients per dispensary unless dispensary openings keep pace).
After whole harvests were destroyed by Maria last year, the shortage caused the price to spike up to $3,500 to $4,500 a pound. Some providers and patients were resorting to selling and smoking trim, which went for $7 a gram in stores, according to Aldarondo.
But now he says that prices have nearly leveled out, with a pound going for roughly $2,500, and expected to drop even further in the near future.
PHoto via Flickr use Mark