The cannabis industry is suing Canadian banks.

Canada’s legal cannabis industry has launched a class-action lawsuit against Canada’s large cartel of banks. They allege the banks have discriminated against them by arbitrarily closing accounts and denying services and access to credit.

Included in the class action are “all individuals or corporations that, directly or indirectly, do business with the major defendant banks and who are involved in the legal cannabis industry since October 17, 2018,” says the press release.

The class action targets National Bank, Bank of Montreal, TD Bank, Royal Bank, CIBC and Desjardins Group.

Details of the Lawsuit

Canada industry sues banks

On February 7, 2023, Gabriel Bélanger of Origami Extractions Inc. filed the class action suit with the lawyers of Groupe SGF.

Groupe SGF is a group of lawyers specializing in corporate, business, indigenous, and labour law. They also provide legal expertise in the cannabis industry.

In a statement, Groupe SGF lawyer Maxime Guérin said: “For far too long, Canadian banks have treated the cannabis industry like pariahs, as if it was still completely illegal. By doing so, they are depriving the Canadian, but especially the local economy of developing a promising market.”

Groupe SGF encourages others to come forward. As a class-action lawsuit, anyone who fits the criteria for being part of the class (i.e., anyone who has been harmed in the same way by the same defendant) is eligible to join the lawsuit and participate in any settlement or award that may result from the case.

However, in this case, you do not have to register to be part of the target group.

According to Groupe SGF, any licensed producer, third-party distributor, cultivation equipment seller, or even people producing fertilizers are eligible.

Why Do Banks Hate Cannabis? 

cannabis industry sues canadian banks

American banks won’t go near cannabis, even in the legal states. This results in the Federal Reserve becoming the nation’s largest money launderer, as they deal directly with the quasi-legal industry. It’s a situation many expect legislation to fix.

But Canada legislated cannabis legalization in 2018. So why won’t Canadian banks treat the industry fairly?

“Our banks won’t touch us because they’re afraid of making the Americans mad at them,” George George Smitherman tells CLN over the phone. George is President and CEO of the Cannabis Council of Canada (C3), an industry lobby group.

“Until they get their banking figured out, our banks are too scared because they’re so exposed to the U.S. They totally lack courage.”

Smitherman says that even the banking services for C3 are outrageous. “They charge us an extra $1000 a year because we’re like some tainted industry.”

Cannabis Industry Sues Canadian Banks

Regarding the class-action lawsuit, the lawyers have filed the application, but the appeal has yet to be authorized as of this publication.

Once it goes through, be sure to check back here at CLN for all the latest updates and information.