U.S. Banking System Puts Jamaica’s Marijuana In A Spot Of Bother

Audley Shaw, the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, has called for the legitimizing of licensed cannabis growers, processors, and the correspondent banking relationships by the U.S.

He noted that the Jamaican Government would continue to press for a change and expects the U.S. to play a lead role.

He made his remarks while addressing the CanEx Business Conference and Expo held recently in Montego Bay.

Mr. Shaw stated while Jamaica has made significant progress in the development of the cannabis industry, its growth continues to be retarded by the issue of the correspondent banking system.

“I have had several meetings with investors and prospective investors who lament the difficulty of getting money into the country to conduct legal and legitimate business within the sector – all this while other countries are busy leveraging the global demand for cannabis,” Mr. Shaw said.

The Minister emphasized that the refusal to bank entities within the sector forces retailers to engage in mostly cash transactions to facilitate business.

“This poses not only a danger to business operators but also stifles business linkages, as associated companies also refuse to engage with cannabis businesses to avoid conflict in relationships with their respective banks,” Mr. Shaw pointed out.

He added that passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the U.S. Congress could resolve correspondent banking challenges.

“The passage of the SAFE Banking Act is a major step in the right direction, because, ultimately, we now have to deal with the issue of correspondent banking. An example of this is, we are here in Jamaica, we want to do business with Canada, the U.S. and European countries, but how does the money move?” the Minister said.

“So, the SAFE Banking Act is dealing with how the money moves within the United States. Now we have to lobby the U.S. government for that same Banking Act to embrace the international movement of money for countries that have a legitimate cannabis industry, such as Jamaica with the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA),” Mr. Shaw said.

He added that the island’s CARICOM partners have also been called upon to join the lobby.

The SAFE Banking Act was introduced earlier this year as a means of permanently protecting financial institutions in legalized states that want to offer essential banking services to marijuana businesses.

Carol May, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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