Big banks shun B.C. cannabis-sector entrepreneurs

Legal marijuana sellers also face higher rates to process debit transactions

It is more than four months since Canada legalized recreational cannabis but entrepreneurs acting within the law in that sector continue to face hurdles and discrimination when looking for a financial institution.

“It’s very frustrating,” said aspiring cannabis-sector entrepreneur and Phytron Technologies Inc. CEO Bob Potter. “How can companies attract outside money if they can’t deposit it in a secure financial institution? Do they keep the cash in a shoebox under the bed?”

Potter plans to become a licensed cannabis grower, and he is developing software aimed at optimizing growing conditions inside cannabis grow rooms.

Canada’s big banks all turned Potter down when he asked them if he could open a business account. So did major credit unions.

None of the institutions would explain to Business in Vancouver why they do not yet treat legal cannabis businesses like startup bakeries or restaurants.

Representatives at the Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank told BIV in separate emailed statements that their institutions’ policies are evolving, and that they assess whether to accept cannabis-sector businesses as clients on a case-by-case basis.

Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce made headlines earlier this year for combining to provide an $80 million loan to a venture part-owned by licensed cannabis producer Canopy Growth Corp.

Owners of small cannabis enterprises, however, continue to get turned away if they simply ask for a business bank account.

Read the full article at Richmond News