SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s public coffers will take in millions of dollars in taxes thanks to the medicinal marijuana industry on the island, where an estimated 100,000 patients will be treated with the substance over the next two years.
Businesswoman Ingrid Schmidt announced on Monday at a press conference the creation of the Puerto Rico Medicinal Cannabis Association, which she said is being founded with the task of promoting the development of marijuana to treat disease and ensure that patients will receive the most appropriate care possible.
The announcement of the start of PRMCA’s activities by Schmidt, who is the organization’s spokesperson, coincides with reports appearing in local media by members of the island’s Ricardo Rossello administration indicating that a bill is being discussed to deal with medicinal pot.
The bill under study is designed to provide a response to a very key current issue in Puerto Rico, where since the close of 2015 the medicinal pot sector has been regulated by executive orders signed by the prior Alejandro Garcia Padilla administration, which sought in medicinal marijuana a way to contribute, via taxes, to the sputtering local economy.
Schmidt emphasized that since late 2015 local businessmen have invested millions of dollars in a sector that, she said, could contribute toward alleviating the dire situation of the commonwealth’s public finances.
Schmidt, a partner with the Puerto Rico MedCann.Biz firm, said that it is important for all industry participants to have a single voice to carry the message about the health contributions medicinal pot provides.
The association encompasses businessmen in the sector specializing in growing, processing and selling marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Erie Perez, one of the partners in XASS Farma, a business licensed to operate in growing, processing and selling medicinal pot, told EFE that he expects his company to start operations in May catering to a market that he estimates over the next two years will have 100,000 patients.
Also participating in the press conference was Julian Londoño, a partner with Nextgen Pharma, licensed to engage in marijuana production, who said that medicinal pot is a treatment up to 10 times less effective than chemical medications for various diseases.
The Puerto Rican press estimates that so far the taxes obtained by the island’s government from firms dealing in medicinal marijuana total about $2.7 million since its regulation in late 2015.
Since then, more than 100 companies have applied for licenses to operate in the sector, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to launch their operations on the island.
The island’s Department of Health has granted licenses to five companies to grow medicinal pot, and they operate plantations in seven municipalities that to date they have paid about $400,000 in taxes.