We’ve been keeping you updated over the last several days on the churches’ and their supporters’ efforts to force a national referendum on full marijuana legalization in Belize. They’ve been working hard to collect signatures for their petition, which requires at least 10% of registered voters to comply with the Referendum Act.
Although the churches have made strong moral and health arguments against legalization, the Briceno administration claims that a Belizean marijuana business may give a significant economic boost in terms of export profits and employment creation.
Legal marijuana is transforming into a multibillion-dollar industry around the world, particularly in the United States, with tax authorities raking in billions of dollars.
It is undeniably appealing from a financial aspect, with plenty of possibilities for wealth production by entrepreneurs in this field. It also holds significant economic possibilities for nations that have aggressively completed the legalization of the once stigmatized prohibited substance.
Belize is on the verge of becoming a legalized country. Citizens will be permitted to pursue cannabis as a legitimate business, in addition to having more freedom to use and possess the herb if they hold a valid cannabis programmed identity card.
But, how difficult is it to break into the legal marijuana market? Today, our Daniel Ortiz took a closer look, and here’s what he found:
While there is a lot of excitement associated with exploring this new territory, future Ganja farmers and dispensary operators should be aware of the uphill battle that has accompanied this global effort.
The major problem is that if you work in the business, local banks would refuse to take your money.
They can’t afford to jeopardize their correspondent banking connections with their American counterparts. Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the United States, and is linked to the earnings of this activity can result in penalties.
Former Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“If you’re thinking clearly, you can’t legalize at this time…
You can’t have market access, especially not to the largest market, the United States.”
“Because there is no federal legalization of marijuana in the United States, your legalization is necessary… Our banking system will have no dealings with the earnings of this so-called marijuana sector as long as that is the case in the United States.”
Former Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, Glen Eyzaguirre
“Banks that are federal banks or are licensed by the federal government cannot and will not bank marijuana-related firms because they may face regulatory penalties from federal regulators. While local banks may desire to participate, I believe they have good reason to be wary because they may be exposed to de-risking by existing correspondent banks. The international banking system is controlled by these powerful countries, such as the United States and the European Union.”
Senator for the United Democratic Party and former Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte
“While the government may be doing the right thing, it must be cautious that it is doing it correctly. So you don’t want any pressure put on our banks?”
— ispotify (@ispotify1) April 25, 2022
As a result, if you own a marijuana-related business, your financial transactions will remain unbanked in the current investing climate. But what if you’re a marijuana business employee in any capacity?
“Commercial banks in the area would be required to begin de-risking specific clients, individuals, or marijuana-related enterprises. You are asked several questions when you go to the bank to open an account. You must complete surveys about your source of income. If you tell me you want to borrow money or create an account and you work for someone in the marijuana sector, the bank will most likely tell you, “I’m sorry, but I can’t offer you any banking services.”
Former Prime Minister Barrow believes that holders of the Cannabis Program Identification Card, a two-year Weed ID that allows citizens to legally possess marijuana, are also at risk because the card identifies them as marijuana end-users. today, we’ve been checking up with the churches regarding their referendum petition frequently. They said they were close yesterday, but there have been a couple of last-minute issues since then.
Pastor Louis Wade told the reporters via WhatsApp that the churches had to return to the streets to gather additional signatures. This is because the petition has been signed by Belizeans who are not registered, voters. Despite their moral support, their signature does not contribute to the broader goal of reaching the 18,700 registered voters level required to trigger the referendum.
According to Wade, “Those numbers were unregistered or the folks did not reregister but joined the petition, according to [our] investigation. So we’re using the elections (and) boundaries website to ‘shoring up numbers.'” The quote comes to an end.