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Medical pot in Canada stirs up problems for U.S. investors | Canadian Insurance

Medical pot in Canada stirs up problems for U.S. investors

Dude, you remember the issue with a trippy 1970s-LP-style cover about medical marijuana, but with an article that totally explored the depths of insuring pot, and that was sooo cool right? So we thought we’d come back with an item that uses run-on sentences to completely blow the mind of our uptight copy editor (power to the people!) and allow us to indulge every lazy, cliché, stylistic trick in hack writing. Good times! Um, what did we want to say?

Okay, okay, we remember now. We’ll obviously follow up on the long list of potential ramifications for insurance if recreational pot gets legalized. But we thought we ought to mention how medical marijuana up here already seems to be a big problem for American investors.

“U.S. law enforcement is particularly interested in U.S. investors in the market here,” Tom Fleming told the recent ACAMS conference in Toronto, “and a determination of the extent to which any profits… would actually be violations of the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S. When those profits would be repatriated to them… would that be considered illegal profits? And the banks receiving them, then be laundering that money… the jury’s still out on this.”

As it happens, Fleming is the CEO of the Link to Banking network, which bills itself as having been formed “to help cannabis entrepreneurs gain the tools needed to ensure their operations are legitimate and compliant, ultimately allowing them to qualify for full banking services.”

American banks, he told conference delegates, are “very hesitant to do anything with marijuana” and credit card firms in the States won’t allow their cards to be used for even medical pot purchases—even when such transactions are allowed at the state level. Here in Canada, Fleming says Ottawa is greatly concerned about the illegal market possibly being served from the “back door” of licensed producers so “constant audits” are being made.

“An important part of what I’m doing with banks in the U.S. is educating their customers to what all this is about, and the records that need to be maintained… because particularly the old guard, former underground part of the marijuana industry, just thinks that everybody’s out to get them, and they don’t understand that the banks have to comply with certain rules and regulations… Depending on which way you go with the legitimate adult marijuana, you may have the same educational situations up here.”

So in addition to the hassles of international treaties, there are the migraines of banking to cure before we even talk policies. Legal recreational pot may stay a pipe dream for a longer time than we all expected.
Copyright © 2016 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in the March 2016 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine