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New Growth Industry Minister Gives Update on the Hemp Industry

The hemp industry in Belize is progressing as the Ministry of New Growth Industries has been doing its research to make it a viable product for Belize.  In speaking with Minister Kareem Musa Love News learnt that there are several factors that need to be considered including zoning, and the science of growing hemp. 

Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “We have revised the regulations as it relates to industrial hemp. If you recall from the last administration it was done very secretly in my opinion, secretively and in the dark. A lot of people weren’t aware that we were issuing industrial hemp licenses and so that has been brought to light. There are actually thirty six industrial hemp licenses that have been issued of which only one since 2017 because that’s when the law was introduced, only one of those thirty six licenses is actually up and running and so we are taking a close look at the regulations and the criteria to qualify an individual or a company to be able to grow hemp in the country and it also means that we have to take a comprehensive look at it because what is a very little known fact about industrial hemp is that it cannot grow alongside cannabis. The female plant so powerful that if cross pollination takes place it can destroy the male cannabis plant, it can completely decimate an entire plantation and so the last administration it is safe to say was not considering any type of zoning, any time of regulation that involves the government getting an application fee, anything like that and so we have seen where it is not the formula that the UDP left behind leaves a lot to be desired and so moving forward the first order of business is to introduce these new regulations concerning industrial hemp which we plan to have the statutory instrument revised by the ending of April.”

 Minister Musa goes on to say that in the process of pushing for hemp to become a revenue earner for Belize, there have been multiple consultations taking place.

Hon. Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries: “So a lot of the ground work that we have been doing it involves consultation it also involves a lot of legal research, studying the successes of the hemp industry in particular, hemp and cannabis industry in other countries, in the region, in the United States and Canada and seeing how it is that we could create the proper formula moving forward certainly with respect to the industrial hemp industry which already exists in our country but also looking at the possibility if we were going to go legal with a cannabis industry to find the right formula as we move forward with respect to those two particular industries. In relation to correspondent banking there has been no set back. Like I mentioned the previous administration issued thirty six hemp licenses and there was no push back coming from the correspondent banking services primarily out of the US. What we had some push back on from the US banks to my knowledge was that we were having difficulty because of our IBC regulations, International Banking Regulations, so those regulations if you recall we had been blacklisted by the European Union and because of that blacklisting we had to make some meaningful changes to the regulations that govern IBCs, off shore banking regulations in our country that was done and basically that rectified the issue of correspondent banking. So while it is a concern when we’re talking hemp and we’re talking cannabis there has been no push back as far as I’m aware when it comes to correspondent banking relations being jeopardized. If we look at Jamaica which as gone medicinal legalized marijuana they’ve had their sector up and running if I’m not mistaken, from since 2016 and they have not suffered any consequences in terms of their correspondent banking relations. So I do not anticipate that we’re going to have issues but certainly if the issues arise we’d have to find ways to fix it but if it does arise I would say that we’re being unfairly targeted. When you look at the United States they’re moving forward with their safe banking act, they’re moving forward with recreational cannabis I think now fifteen states now have recreational cannabis a majority of them have medicinal cannabis and so they’ve all been moving in that direction and sooner rather than later I’m sure it’s going to go federal so once it goes federal I don’t see us having any issues with correspondent banking.” 

We will have more on this in subject in our evening news.