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Gov't will continue to lobby US on correspondent banking, says Shaw

Friday, October 11, 2019

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ST JAMES, Jamaica — Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, says the Government will continue to lobby the United States to take the lead in legitimising licensed cannabis growers and processors in the correspondent banking relationships with US banks.

Shaw was addressing the CanEx Business Conference and Expo, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, recently.

The minister noted that while Jamaica has made significant strides in creating an industry needed to catapult the island to the highest sphere of global cannabis, the issue of correspondent banking continues to be a major challenge for legal cannabis producers.

“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,” he said.

He emphasised 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,” Shaw pointed out.

He added that passage of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act in the US 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 US 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 US 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),” he said.

Shaw 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 legalised states that want to offer basic banking services to marijuana businesses.

The CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo is an annual three-day business-to-business (B2B) event that brings together top cannabis industry experts from the United States, Canada, South and Central America, Europe, Australia and the Caribbean.

-JIS


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