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Are Banking Concerns Really Delaying Cannabis Reform In Belize?

stop sign belize

Lawmakers in Belize previously passed the ‘Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill 2022.’ The measure passed both chambers of Belize’s Parliament and was set to become law.

However, cannabis prohibitionists, particularly church leaders, were able to successfully stall the passage of the bill and divert it into Belize’s referendum process.

A vote was initially set for later this year on September 4th. That vote is now being delayed, with no future vote date set from what I can tell. The reasoning for the delay? ‘Concerns’ about banking. Per Caribbean National Weekly:

The Belize government has confirmed that concerns raised by the banking community have led to the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill 2022 being temporarily shelved despite going through all the states in Parliament.

Home Affairs and New Growth Industries Minister, Kareem Musa, was asked by reporters to comment on his reluctance to admit that banking sector concerns would present a roadblock to the bill.

“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 blacklisted.”

To many cannabis industry and policy observers around the globe, the excuse offered up for delaying the referendum vote seems to be a stretch. After all, many countries engage in the emerging legal cannabis industry, including nations in the European Union.

There seems to be a lot of rhetoric being tossed around on this topic, but not a lot of real-world examples of it actually happening. Hopefully cannabis reform can get back on track in Belize sooner rather than later.