Financial sector urged to be watchful of new ganja industry

Kingston, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government is calling on the financial sector to be watchful in ensuring that only clean money enters or passes through their systems from the new ganja industry.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator AJ Nicholson, who made the call yesterday, said the opening of opportunities in the industry also involved risks.

He was addressing the Jamaica Bankers’ Association/Jamaica Institute of Financial Services 4th Annual Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Financing of Terrorism Conference, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in New Kingston.

The minister told the gathering that with the relaxation of the rules involving the use, possession and trade in medical cannabis related products, financial institutions “must adapt their rules and procedures to be consistent with the amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act.”

“In so doing, they must continue to be vigilant to ensure that funds which pass through their institutions are acquired only through the regulated trade in cannabis and cannabis related products, which are legal,” he added.

Under the amended Dangerous Drugs Act, which came into effect earlier this year, provision is made for a Cannabis Licensing Authority for the purpose of enabling a lawful, regulated industry in ganja for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes, and in hemp, to be established in Jamaica.

The Cannabis Licensing Authority is responsible for issuing licences, permits and authorisations for the handling of hemp and ganja, and for monitoring and regulating persons who have been issued licences, permits and authorisations. It is specifically mandated to ensure that regulations do not contravene Jamaica’s international obligations.

While citing several legislative measures that Jamaica has put in place to combat money laundering, Minister Nicholson said the issue is complex, and the collaborative effort of civil society, the private sector and Government “must continue to develop effective systems to respond to the challenge.”

Emphasising that the Government is keen on ensuring that Jamaica remains compliant in its international obligation to fight money laundering, the Minister said the “status is necessary to avert any negative consequence that stakeholders in the banking and financial sectors might face as a result of Jamaica being deemed non-compliant.”

The two-day conference is looking at the decriminalisation of marijuana and its impact on the Jamaican financial sector, terrorism financing issues, the cost of corruption, legislation dealing with money laundering, and other topics related to the financial sector.

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