Banking issues hindering growth of cannabis industry, says CLA chairmanWednesday, October 30, 2019
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Chairman of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), Hyacinth Lightbourne, says one of the major hindrances to the growth of the country's cannabis industry is the banking sector.
Lightbourne, who was speaking at a Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) meeting today at Gordon House in Kingston, said the industry cannot move forward because of the recurring banking issues and lamented that the CLA does not have the ability to fix it.
“I have an individual who's building a processing facility for which the bank of the contractor won't cash the cheque. I have an individual who has foreign investors for which the company can't wire the money into the country…It is a real life problem,” she told committee members.
Noting that the CLA, a regulator in the ganja industry, could not get a bank account for almost a year, she said there are currently 238 individuals under the CLA without a bank account.
“The CLA does not have the ability to change the law of the United States, to change the correspondent banking issue so that we can go ahead and bank the industry,” Lightbourne pointed out.
In the meantime, Member of Parliament Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert challenged Lightbourne by questioning whether or not the industry, which the CLA insists is growing, can ever really grow.
“My concern is…that there are Jamaicans out there investing in this thing with the hope that it is going to move. Now if you speak with such conviction on the fact that you can't…what is really going to happen? Are they going to live to benefit from this? What is the reality that we are facing because we are feeding people with hopes and I'm wondering whether their hopes are going to be ever materialised,” Dalrymple-Philibert reasoned.
However, Lightbourne reminded the PAAC that she could only do what is in her “power under the laws”.
“We have requested meetings with the Bank of Jamaica numerous times but what I have been told, not only by the Bank of Jamaica, but by private banking institutions, is that we cannot force a bank to take an individual's money and right now with risk of losing their correspondent banking, they will not touch it,” the CLA chairman told the committee.
“We are trying to outfit as much as we can, however, the CLA does not have the ability to fix the banking problem,” she continued.
The CLA is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
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