Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Growth & Jobs | Gov’t to resolve banking issues affecting medical cannabis sector

Published:Tuesday | November 10, 2020 | 12:17 AM
Dr Norman Dunn, state minister of industry, investment and commerce, at The OHJA Herb House Launch at 90 Barbican Road, Kingston, on October 23, 2020.
Dr Norman Dunn, state minister of industry, investment and commerce, at The OHJA Herb House Launch at 90 Barbican Road, Kingston, on October 23, 2020.
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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is working to resolve banking issues that have been impacting Jamaica’s medical cannabis industry.

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.

State Minister Dr 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.

“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. It is a real issue; it is a real concern,” he noted.

“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,” he added.

The state minister was speaking at the opening of EXIM Bank’s virtual webinar last Thursday titled ‘E-commerce: The new Export Frontier for Small and Medium-sized Businesses’.

FINDING OPPORTUNITIES

The EXIM Bank, under its Business Advisory Services Unit, is seeking to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with information to unlock existing and new opportunities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Dunn, in welcoming the webinar, said it will prepare entities to meet the new challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

He commended the EXIM Bank for continuing “to chart new avenues and opportunities and to create new pathways for us to see that the world is there, and we need to rise to the occasion to play that meaningful part in this new world that is emerging”.

Managing Director of EXIM Bank Lisa Bell, in her remarks, said that the entity’s primary goal is to assist small and medium-sized businesses, particularly those operating in the “very important export value chain,” to realise their productive promise.

“Our mandate is to improve access to finance [including] loans and other fit-for-purpose financing solutions,” she noted.

She said that the organisation has been working assiduously to identify existing and emerging opportunities “which will allow our clients, and potential clients, to not only survive this crisis, but to, indeed, actually thrive”.

The webinar included presentations from local and international experts on how to start, build and scale up e-commerce businesses.