Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico last month, causing at least 36 deaths and over $100 billion in damages to residents and businesses. The hurricane also stopped the territory’s fledgling medical cannabis industry in its tracks, causing millions of dollars in damages, which some businesses may not be able to recover from. “It was like nothing I could ever imagine,” said Javier Vergne, CEO of Encanto Giving Tree Wellness Center. “It plowed right through the middle of the island, and really nothing was spared.”
“All the greenhouses were blown away,” Walter Melendez, Puerto Rico-based attorney with cannabis law firm Hoban Law Group, said. “They don’t exist. We lost it all.” Every outdoor cannabis cultivation facility was destroyed in the storm, but 8 or 9 indoor grow-ops survived. Forty percent of the island’s residents have no access to running water, and 95% have no electricity, so these surviving cultivators are currently forced to use gas generators and water tanks to care for their plants.
“In the middle of Puerto Rico, around the mountains, it’s like a bomb exploded,” Melendez said. “There’s no way to get us electricity….