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News > Jamaica

Jamaica, US States Urge Easing of Bank Restrictions on Cannabis

  • Cannabis has been legalized in ten U.S. states.

    Cannabis has been legalized in ten U.S. states. | Photo: Reuters

Published 7 June 2019

U.S. attorney generals are pushing for the right to federal banking for the cannabis industry and Jamaica is supporting the venture.

Jamaica is in full support of lobbying the U.S. government to allow money generated by the marijuana industry to be processed and handled by federally regulated banks, Jamaican Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw said.

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U.S. legislation prohibits federally regulated banks to process any money obtained through “criminal activity” which includes cannabis in a majority of U.S. states. Although cannabis use and commercial businesses are permitted in some states, on the federal level it remains illegal.

Cannabis business owners are therefore prohibited from receiving federal deposit insurance, opening an account, or obtaining a credit card and are forced to conduct business in cash. This increases the risk of robbery and decreases the taxable income in certain states, ultimately affecting California, Colorado, and Michigan’s economy.

Legislation of this sort discourages business with potential international partners, like Jamaica.

“Most U.S. banks do not want anything to do with money from the cannabis industry for fear it could expose them to legal trouble from the federal government, which still considers marijuana illegal,” Shaw said.

A letter, signed by attorney generals in 33 U.S. states, was sent to Congress, requesting the U.S. banking system’s restrictions be lifted in regards to the marijuana industry.

Although the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has placed Jamaica “at the very top” of the medical marijuana industry, these restrictions could cause a serious problem for Jamaica’s economy and its impact in the global market in the future.

It’s for this reason, Jamaica has aligned its support with those of the 33 U.S. attorney generals to push for the removal of these anti-cannabis restrictions.

“The local banks are fearful of funding the growth of the medical cannabis industry for fear of being de-risked by their international counterparts in the U.S.,” Shaw said, but to allow this to continue would risk losing business to its competitors in Colombia, Israel, and Portugal.

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