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Aug 2, 2022

Kareem Musa Says Proposed Cannabis Industry Is Cash Industry

Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, Kareem Musa, also responded to questions on the now stalled Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill 2022. As we reported, the Bill has been shelved, after going through all its stages in parliament.  The decision, in part, came as a result of concerns from the banking sector. Today, reporters asked Musa about what has been perceived to be reluctance on his part to admit that banking sector concerns would present a road block to the bill at this juncture in the process. Here is how he responded.

 

Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries

Kareem Musa

“Cannabis legalization is taking place all across the Caribbean. Like the rest of the Caribbean, Belize always has correspondent banking concerns. As you recall with the offshore sector, we had to make certain regulations and adjustments to comply with the European Union so that we were not black listed. So, correspondent banking is a live issue at all times for Belize and the Caribbean, but what I can tell you is that countries like Jamaica, Antigua is moving towards it, Trinidad is about to pass their legislation, and St. Vincent, those countries are moving towards the legalization of Cannabis. As I always say, it is a cash industry, so when you ask me about banking, banking does not come into the picture unless you are banking your cannabis dollars. So, even in the Caribbean, and the great United States where it is a ninety- two billion dollar industry, it is a cash industry. So, individuals who are engaged in the Cannabis Sector do not go and deposit their funds in the bank. That does not happen even in America. So, like I keep saying, that is the way we would have to operate in Belize if we were to legalize cannabis. That was always known. So, it is not a matter of downplaying. I think that one of the major banks had raised an issue, one of the bigger banks in the country had raised an issue about correspondent banking, again assuming we would have been banking the cannabis dollars in banking sector. But, again that is not the case.”


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