Two Canadian banks say no to marijuana-related accounts

Two of Canada’s biggest banks – Scotiabank and the Royal Bank of Canada – say they aren’t providing accounts to plant-touching or ancillary marijuana businesses, forcing some owners to find new financial institutions that will take their money.

Nathan MacLellan, the owner of Hemp County in Woodstock, Ontario, a store that sells accessories including pipes and bongs but not actual cannabis, received a letter from Scotiabank late last month telling him his account was being cancelled, according to the Canadian Press. MacLellan had had an account with Scotiabank for about 10 years.

The Canadian Press also reported that in August a medical cannabis producer received a phone call from Scotiabank, stating that it’s no longer doing business with cannabis-related companies.

Marijuana business owners in the United States, where many banks continue to avoid the cannabis industry, can empathize with their Canadian counterparts. U.S. banks generally shun marijuana accounts because cannabis is illegal under federal law. In Canada, by contrast, medical marijuana is legal under federal law. And the federal government there plans to legalize adult-use marijuana by next spring.

Spokesmen for both of the Canadian banks confirmed that the financial institutions do not accept marijuana accounts. A Scotiabank spokesman told the Canadian Press that the bank will continue to monitor the industry and may change its position in the future.