Jamaica’s Medical Cannabis Industry Held Back By Jittery Bankers

Medical cannabis - Jamaica
Image via Jamaica Cannabis Licensing Authority 

Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is striving to resolve banking issues impacting the country’s fledgling medical cannabis industry.

It seems many banks in the country are balking at funding medical cannabis operations out of concerns for their relationships with banks in the USA; where cannabusinesses also still struggle with securing financial services.

A meeting was recently held with Jamaican banks to discuss the matter.

“We had a meeting with a major stakeholder in the industry and we have been having meetings with persons who are making the various different proposals on how we deal with this correspondent banking issue,” said  State Minister, Dr. the Hon. Norman Dunn. “It is a real issue; it is a real concern”.

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The Jamaican Government is keen to support its local medical cannabis industry, and is attempting to assist.

“The Ministry is working assiduously to ensure that we have a solution, that we can encourage this new industry to grow and develop and thrive,” said Minister Dunn.

There’s been a strong push for the development of a medical cannabis and hemp sector in the country for some years. Back in 2016, then Finance and Planning Minister, Audley Shaw said Jamaica “cannot afford to miss this boat” and 2017 saw the first cultivator licences issued.

The country’s industry is overseen by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), which was established in 2015. It creates regulations to guide the development of legal medical marijuana and hemp industry in Jamaica, ensures regulations created and activities within the industry meet Jamaica’s international obligations, and issue licenses, permits, and authorization for the handling of marijuana and hemp.

The Cannabis Licensing Authority had issued 67 licences to local companies and individuals since its establishment in 2015 by August this year (28 for cultivation, 23 for retail, 11 for processing, four for research and development and one for transportation.) and was aiming to issue its 100th license by the end of the 2020/21 financial year. As at September, the CLA had also issued 315 conditionally approved licences from 712 applications.

In August, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) announced it had developed and established seven standards to provide guidelines and safeguards for consumers and to help companies with readying their cannabis operations for the export market.