When you’ve got a cannabis credit union in your corner, nothing seems impossible. Despite Canadian cannabis legalization, banking for cannabis producers and operators is still a struggle.
That’s where Community Savings Credit Union has stepped up. With seven branches in British Columbia, they’ve won two awards from the Canadian Marketing Association for cannabis advocacy.
Specifically, they won awards for their “Roll with us” marketing campaign and “Does your bank deliver,” which compared choosing their services with choosing toppings for your pizza.
A win for the Community Savings Credit Union is a win for cannabis in Canada. With traditional banks charging fees 5000% higher for cannabis-related businesses, this is where it helps to have a cannabis credit union in your corner.
Why the Banks Don’t Like Cannabis
President and CEO of Community Savings, Mike Schilling, said:
“There is a serious side to our campaigns that have fun with cannabis culture. We meet too many businesses in the industry that are being exploited and paying up to 5000% more than they should for a simple account. We treat cannabis retailers like any other small business, with best-in-class service and products.
“This campaign isn’t only about the cannabis industry – it is about equal access to fair and affordable banking services. Community Savings will continue to advocate for what is right and what is fair, and supporting the cannabis industry is just the beginning.”
But why don’t the big banks like cannabis? Don’t they like money? If they see a cannabis credit union, don’t they say to themselves, “hey, we want some of that!”
According to Mike, the reason they don’t is due to stigma. For many of the suits on Bay Street, cannabis is still the domain of biker gangs.
Banks see cannabis as a higher risk, often making the comparison to alcohol. But breweries and distilleries don’t face the same kind of stigma cannabis does. A fairer comparison would be how banks deal with casinos.
And if you do manage to get a cannabis-related bank account, expect to pay fees upward of $500 per month compared to $50 per month (the average cost of a corporate account).
Until banks come to their senses, Canada’s cannabis industry must rely on credit unions.
Canada’s Cannabis Credit Union
Banking is fundamental to business. While credit unions like Community Savings Credit Union have stepped up, overall, there is a limit to what a credit union can do for your business.
That said, the awards won by the Community Savings Credit Union highlight that there is money to be made in helping out cannabis producers and retailers.
Large banks would be wise to treat the legal cannabis industry like any other legal sector. Or perhaps, especially after freezing the bank accounts of people peacefully protesting in Ottawa, the rest of us should be getting out of traditional banking and patronizing credit unions instead.