Cannabis exports from Jamaica are being slowed by US banking law
Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries of Jamaica, says he wants to start the process of cannabis exports from Jamaica to the whole world but that the US gets in its way. Jamaica is finalizing export regulations for its burgeoning cannabis industry, which has attracted investments from large Canadian companies. Its intention is to export marijuana grown in the country to countries such as Germany and Australia that allow the import of medical cannabis.
But Jamaica’s banking system is inextricably linked to that of the United States, which is restricted in how it can work with the cannabis industry because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
Audley Shaw has expressed concern during an interview at the Bloomberg office in New York on Wednesday. The minister complains about the banking issue because is a serious impediment to cannabis exports from Jamaica. The minister spoke of the potential of medical cannabis to solve the problem of opioid addiction and he hopes to speak with President Trump about it since the problem is so serious that it requires speaking at the highest level.
In our article “Cannabis and banks in the US” we explained that the US House of Representatives recently passed the Fair and Safe Banking Law, which would allow banks to do business with cannabis companies that comply with state laws. But the new law would not allow bank transactions from country to country or correspondent, leaving the cannabis exports from Jamaica out of the game. The minister said that the more he studied the problem, the more he realized the importance of all industry participants making an effort.
Jamaica has been a marijuana icon for a long time through the music of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. In 2015 it decriminalized the possession of small quantities and gradually developed a legal market for medical cannabis. The country has granted more than 50 licenses of medical cannabis and is now working on a pilot project to attract smaller farmers to the industry.
Marijuana is in high demand in this country, both by locals and tourists. Cannabis exports from Jamaica will be essential for the growth of the industry. The minister asked why the United States would allow Canadian cannabis companies such as Canopy, Tilray Inc., Aurora Cannabis Inc. and others to trade on their stock exchanges while banning country-to-country banking. Shaw cannot understand how a cannabis company is listed on the stock exchange, but there is a problem with a bank correspondent. “We have to solve this problem quickly,” said the minister.
The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq play with actions of cannabis companies as long as they comply with the federal laws where they operate, and none of those companies has cannabis operations in the United States. The situation is likely to change if the Safe Banking Law becomes law.