Langley businessman and marijuana activist Randy Caine said he decided to picket the TD bank branch on Willowbrook Drive over a question of principle.
After more than nine years of doing his banking with the Langley Township branch, Caine says he was surprised to discover the account manager at the branch had doubts about the nature of his business, a chain of hemp-related shops called HEMPYZ Gift and Novelties.
Caine said he was refused when he attempted to have the name of his business added to an already existing personal line of credit.
The reason given, he said, was concern about the nature of his business and whether it was entirely legal.
While the three shops in the Langleys and White Rock specialize in hemp-related products and are pro-pot, Caine said no marijuana is sold on the premises and the items that are for sale have been legally purchased.
“It’s a legal, lawful business,” Caine said.
“I have a business card with them (TD) that says, ‘HEMPYZ.’ This irritates the dickens out of me.”
On Tuesday, Caine carried out a quiet, one-man protest, picketing the bank branch with a sign that said “TD Bank unfair to small biz.”
The 64-year-old Caine said it is the first time he has ever engaged in a public protest and he plans to continue until the bank changes its position.
The married father of two is a well-known public advocate for legalization of marijuana who has run for council and for mayor of Langley City.
He is also founder of a city marijuana dispensary that closed down after running into trouble with the authorities, and the Releaf Compassion Centers that provide counseling to people seeking to use cannabis for medical purposes.
Caine, who has undergone therapy for a slow-growing form of cancer, said like any business owner, he wants to make sure that his company can continue after he’s gone.
“If I happen to drop dead, who has credit at HEMPYZ?” Caine said.
“I employ 15 people locally.”
Asked if he couldn’t simply take his business elsewhere, Caine said it was a “matter of principle” and he was hoping to “educate” the bank about the potential opportunities that will come up once the federal government makes good its promise to change the pot laws this year.
“With legalization, there will be more businesses like me coming in,” Caine said.
Spokesperson Jeff Meerman said TD was aware of the complaint, but for privacy reasons, “we don’t discuss individual customer accounts or lending decisions.”
“We respect Mr. Caine’s right to peacefully protest and would invite him to discuss this matter further with us directly,” Meerman added.