Natural disasters have taken a great toll on the mainland in the U.S. but even more so on the islands like Puerto Rico where weeks after Hurricane Maria hit only 17% of islanders have power and 36% are still left without water. These hardships also extend to the island's new medical marijuana program which only began last December. The new industry was the only one that was creating new jobs as well as showing promise to break into their large debt. Though facing heavy struggle, 20 out of 29 dispensaries have reopened to bring medication to the patients in need. Many of the crops have been destroyed, but to keep the indoor crops alive growers are having to rely on diesel generators and a short supply of water. Medical marijuana shops are supplying medication for patients covering over a dozen illnesses including Alzheimer's, cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease, Parkinson's and more. Patients were initially only able to pickup their cannabis medication at 1 location but due to the state of emergency any open clinic will be able to fill their prescription.
But the island’s medical marijuana companies are starting to make a comeback; 20 of 29 medical marijuana dispensaries have reopened, according to the association. In the first two weeks after the storm, only four dispensaries could fill prescriptions.
In an Oct. 6 determination, the Puerto Rican Department of Cannabis' board approved allowing patients to go to any open clinic, regardless of the dispensary they had been assigned. The new rule lasts until two weeks after the state of emergency has ended or until the board decides to terminate it.
"It’s not only about the industry,” said Alexis Derrios, the dispensary manager of San Juan-based Caribbean Green. “It’s about people that need their medicine. Especially now that people depend on this medicine rather than pharmaceuticals. We don’t want to let them down.”