Jamaican Government Urging Congress to Allow Banks into the Cannabis Industry
Amid the buzz of legislation flying from state-to-state for marijuana reform, perhaps the most high-stakes bill right now is the Security and Fair Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act of 2019.
If passed, this bipartisan bill would demolish an obstacle that has plagued banks and dispensaries alike. Due to the clashes between laws in legal states and federal laws – which maintain that marijuana is illegal – banks fear federal prosecution if they handle money from otherwise legal dispensaries.
Consequently, cannabis businesses have to deal mainly in cash, making them prime targets for robberies and creating headaches when it comes to paying taxes.
The SAFE Act will effectively solve both of these issues by giving banks the green light (no pun intended) to work with dispensaries in legal states, without fear of prosecution.
But according to Marijuana Moment, Americans are not the only interested parties. Thanks to a technicality, the banking obstacle affects Jamaica’s medical cannabis industry as well.
A Major Bottleneck
Jamaica’s medical marijuana industry is running smoothly so far. But like U.S. dispensaries, current U.S. laws are hampering their ability to access all banking functions.
Audrey Shaw, who is the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture in Jamaica, said at a trade convention:
“All of our local commercial banks are obliged right now to go through the New York system as it relates to the movement of money internationally.”
This of course brings marijuana revenue to a screeching halt, effectively submitting a sovereign country to U.S. laws.
Shaw finds this particularly distressing, as he has high hopes for Jamaica’s place in the medical cannabis market. He believes that the country can really excel, but this is heavily dependent on the SAFE Act’s fate.
Strong Aspirations for Marijuana Reform
Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Jamaica, but was decriminalized 2015. Shaw and his colleagues, however, want to see reform go much further.
During the trade convention, Audrey Shaw stated:
“I have been saying for a while that the time will come for the establishment of a legalized marijuana and hemp industry where we can achieve the level of economic growth we have been aiming for.”
According to Marijuana Moment, Shaw firmly believes that Jamaica can become the global leader in medical cannabis – a lofty (but possibly attainable) aspiration, to be sure.
One government official called marijuana Jamaica’s “birthright,” likely due to its religious significance for some individuals. He also advocated for more research into marijuana’s medical benefits.
Is the SAFE Act Safe?
The SAFE Act scored a small victory after making it into the House. Now, it is set for a floor vote in the House of Representatives. The Democrat-controlled House will have no issue passing this bill. The question is whether or not the Republican-dominated Senate will see its benefits, despite the SAFE Act’s bipartisan roots.
Marijuana Moment explains:
“While the fate of the banking bill is less clear in the Senate, it quietly advanced in the House on Wednesday after a key committee discharged the legislation without a report, setting it up for a full floor vote that’s expected in coming weeks. The bill is now pending on the House Union Calendar.”
WeedAdvisor’s Hope for Better U.S. Banking Policies
As a player in the marijuana industry, WeedAdvisor wants to see the United States reach its full potential as a cannabis superpower. This would naturally require some serious changes, banking limitations being just one of them.
We hope that the SAFE Act will pass, both for our own desires to connect with U.S. brands and Jamaica’s need to freely control its medical marijuana revenue.