The island territory is a worldwide drug-manufacturing capital and now huge cannabis corporations are taking a foothold.

Medicine are central to Puerto Rico’s place on the earth. With out Puerto Rico, the world would run out of medication; with out drugs, Puerto Rico would run out of cash.

Right here, look: numbers. As per the U.S. territory’s authorities, there are 49 Meals and Drug Administration-approved pharmaceutical-drug factories on the island. Main corporations together with Pfizer, Merck and Bristol-Meyers Squibb all have presences on Puerto Rico, which in flip depends on drug corporations for as a lot as 30% of its economic system. Eleven of the world’s 20 top-selling pharmaceutical merchandise are made in Puerto Rico, the place the pharmaceutical trade recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria far more rapidly than the remainder of the island — and the place medical cannabis, more and more an alternate or complement to mainstream prescribed drugs, can be authorized.

Inevitable, maybe, was the day when American cannabis corporations based mostly on the mainland would arrange store on Puerto Rico — or when pharmaceutical corporations realized that leasing extra house to would-be marijuana giants is a successful thought. As FiercePharma, an trade web site, just lately famous, the pharmaceutical trade writ massive has plenty of extra house “idling” — and the crucial for each publicly traded cannabis firm has been progress in any respect prices.

And so right here we’re.

As Marijuana Enterprise Every day first reported, Vireo introduced that it had acquired 11 cannabis licenses on Puerto Rico on June 20, with plans to open up six dispensaries in addition to convert a former Pfizer manufacturing unit right into a cannabis cultivation and manufacturing operation.

Medical cannabis has been authorized in Puerto Rico since July 2017. There are presently 72,000 sufferers within the territory — or extra licensed sufferers than in all the New York Metropolis metro space, the place Viero runs a pair of dispensaries.

Vireo is now energetic in eleven U.S. states and territories, a part of a wider nationwide pattern of huge operators rising even larger. Vireo bought a Massachusetts leisure marijuana license for $10 million in April. In the meantime, the corporate’s dwelling base is in Minnesota, the place former firm executives stand accused of illegally smuggling cannabis oil throughout state traces from Minnesota to its operations in New York.

Each New York and Minnesota are recognized for restrictive medical marijuana legal guidelines that severely restrict affected person approval and in addition restrict the vary of merchandise out there to sufferers who do handle to qualify.

And rising cannabis on Puerto Rico isn’t precisely like producing drugs on the island. Drugs you may export to the mainland or different nations; cannabis merchandise nonetheless can not legally cross state traces.

It’s exhausting to determine whether or not Vireo’s Puerto Rico play is forward-thinking to a time when interstate and worldwide commerce is authorized, or a lateral transfer to please traders and present progress in what’s more likely to be a prolonged fallow interval for legalization. Perhaps each?

Legislative classes led to New York and New Jersey with out the passage of adult-use cannabis legal guidelines, and the competitors for licenses in Illinois, which did legalize, is more likely to be very fierce and really costly. Increasing where-ever it could, and making an attempt to grab a portion of the market there, could also be one of many simpler paths ahead for a corporation trying to make strikes.

On the identical time, it would take a elementary overhaul of American cannabis legal guidelines and critical upheaval out there for Puerto Rico to change into the Puerto Rico of cannabis. Prescribed drugs journey effectively; weed actually doesn’t. Pharma will nonetheless be king on the island for some time.

TELL US, do you assume we are going to ever see cannabis commerce between states and U.S. territories?