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Canada's marijuana industry banks on BMO and TD

Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank are emerging as the banks of choice for Canada's burgeoning marijuana industry, even as some lenders shun the sector.

With less than a year to go before Canada plans to legalize recreational cannabis, and 16 years after making it legal for medical use, Bank of Montreal and TD are providing business accounts to at least 21 cannabis companies, according to interviews with 45 firms tied to the drug. Alterna Savings and Credit Union Ltd. is top among co-operative lenders.

Canadian banks are warming to an industry avoided by banks in the United States, where marijuana is outlawed federally. Most U.S. banks have refused to do business with cannabis companies to avoid accusations of money laundering and other criminal violations that could bring jail time.

Canada's recreational pot sales are forecast to reach $6-billion by 2021, surpassing the $1.3-billion estimate for the mature medical marijuana...

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