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Number of certified medicinal cannabis patients up 24% since ’19

The number of certified medicinal cannabis patients has jumped to 114,521, according to the most recent data published by Puerto Rico’s Medicinal Cannabis Regulatory Board (MCRB), up by about 24% when compared to the 92,499 on record for 2019.

However, according to an analysis by local economic research firm, Abexus Analytics, about 37% of Puerto Rico’s towns do not have a medical cannabis dispensary, which is more than one-in-three municipalities without the presence of a medical cannabis retailer.

“The industry has shown a trend of expansion in terms of the number of medical cannabis dispensaries; however, the ownership of such facilities has started to consolidate,” said Eduardo Burgos, COO of Abexus.

While there is a total of 216 cannabis retail facilities across the island — nearly triple the 80 locations on record for 2019 – there are 112 dispensaries with more than one location.

“That is, once a dispensary is established, owners have started to expand to other locations throughout the island. These companies average almost four dispensaries at different locations. The biggest dispensary has almost 16 different locations,” Burgos said.

“Almost 52% of all dispensaries operate under a brand with multiple locations,” he added.

In 2019, Abexus released a study titled “Can the market overdose on cannabis, the distributional effects of too much weed in Puerto Rico,” which confirmed that the sector generated about $50 million in sales the prior year, which is the latest figure readily available.

“As we noted almost two years ago, having adequate data and robust measurements was key to ensure a stable operation of an industry, which has been developed via legislative action,” said Burgos.

“However, current demands from industry players are a sign of a changing landscape, but not necessarily a demand for state action, as other external forces — like the overestimation of revenue forecasts given the surge in sales during the pandemic — have had profound effects in the industry,” he added.

“Keep in mind this is no ordinary industry, as it’s highly regulated and operates at a domestic scale, yet it cannot be considered a fully ‘closed market.’ In fact, it provides an ‘export’ to off-island visitors or tourists who are allowed to access their cannabis meds within the territory under a reciprocity rule,” Burgos said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.
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