The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is engaging international stakeholders to address the banking difficulties that have been impacting Jamaica’s medical cannabis industry.
Director of Research Development and Communications at the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), Felicia Bailey, in making the disclosure at a JIS Think Tank recently, noted that the continued hesitance of banks to deal with players in the local industry remains a challenge.
Many major banks are reluctant to fund the growth of medical cannabis out of fear of breaching federal laws in the United States of America (USA).
As a result, businesses are unable to attract financing, without which they cannot be licensed.
“Banks are derisking to preserve their corresponding banking relationships, mainly in the USA, but the CLA is making every effort on its part to facilitate the growth of the industry.
“The Ministry is doing lobbying in the international space to see where this can be facilitated. It would be difficult for us to go to the local banks, as their hands are tied, so it is more so our [Ministry] speaking with international players to see how best this can be facilitated,” Ms. Bailey explained.
She said that one method being employed to facilitate the import/export of cannabis, amidst the banking issues that licensees face, is the use of Regulation 321 of the interim regulations.
“This permits the CLA, with the prior approval of the Ministry, and after consulting with the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, to grant waivers, deferments or permit payment plans for persons or companies that have difficulties paying the licencing fees and security bonds charged by the CLA,” she explained.
“This allows for greater inclusivity and increased opportunities for all cross sections of the population to enter the industry. Persons benefiting from this facility will be able to begin their operations without the full payment of the fees charged by the CLA,” she told JIS News.
The CLA is an Authority under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, which was established in 2015 under the Dangerous Drugs [Amendment] Act (DDA) with a specific role to establish and regulate Jamaica’s legal cannabis and hemp industry.