CannaBiz: The Quest toward Banking Acceptance


Even though Local banks continue to express concerns about their correspondent banking relationships, and as such, have rejected applications from more than 200 proposed players in the industry to open bank accounts, the Government is expressing confidence that the issue will be resolved soon.

Correspondent banking facilitates certain services by banks in other jurisdictions. The services may include wire transfers, business transactions, and deposits. Despite being assessed by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) as “fit and proper” to do business in the local regulated cannabis industry, at least 238 business interests in the sector have been shut out of the banking system. As a result, businesses are unable to attract financing, without which they cannot be licensed.

Chairman of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), Hyacinth Lightbourne, even told the Parliament’s Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) Wednesday that For about a year, the CLA itself could not open a bank account.

The US whicj, along with Canada, represents both a major market and a competitor, is a major holdout, a situation compounded by the complex legal infrastructure affecting cannabis in that country. In September, The US House of Representatives passed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act  which seeks to amend federal law to allow for banks and other financial institutions to work with state legal cannabis businesses. marijuana is still under Federal classification as a dangerous drugs, but legal status by state is growing, with 15 mainland states plus the District of Columbia (the capital) enjoying full legalization. A number of other states have, like Jamaica, decriminalized personal use with prescribed limits.

Locally, State Minister, Dr. the Hon. Norman Dunn, said that discussions are taking place “at various levels… because we believe that we need to solve this issue”.He said that local banks were invited to participate in a virtual meeting on the matter recently.