The day after the Canadian Senate granted final approval to the legislation that will make recreational marijuana use legal, Langley businessman and marijuana activist Randy Caine unfolded an oversize camping chair in front of the TD bank branch that faces the Willowbrook mall.
Caine, the owner of a chain of hemp-related shops called HEMPYZ Gift and Novelties, attached two signs to the chair that that said TD was unfair to small business and took a seat, smiling and waving when passing vehicles would honk in support.
His one-man protest campaign against the TD decision to deny his business a corporate line of credit has now entered its fourth week.
He said he has been outside the branch at 19711 Willowbrook Dr. almost every day, except for when it rains.
“I (also) took Father’s Day off,” Caine said.
After the protest began, TD spokesperson Jeff Meerman said the company 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.
Caine said he was offended when, during a meeting with a TD manager to do just that, the manager used the word “head shop” to describe Caine’s stores while explaining why the bank didn’t want to get in business with him.
“It was really used in a slagging sort of way,” Caine said.
He views the statement as a remnant of old attitudes from the days when marijuana and marijuana supporters like himself were viewed as criminal.
“It is the residue of propaganda from the prohibition era,” Caine said.
Caine said he has been in contact with the TD ombudsman, which sent him an email that he should have received “final position letter from the appropriate area of TD addressing your concerns in full,” and apologizing for the delay.
While the three shops in the Langleys and White Rock specialize in hemp-related products and are pro-pot, no marijuana is sold on the premises and the items that are for sale have been legally purchased, Caine said.
He said he still has a considerable amount of money with the TD bank in a personal account, but he is insisting on a business line of credit in his company’s name.
Caine said he will continue his protest until the TD changes its policy.
Caine, a 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 Centres 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, and that would require an account under the business name.
The legislation outlining the federal government’s approach to legal pot (Bill C-45) passed the Senate on Tuesday night after a tense few days of legislative ping-pong between the Red Chamber and House of Commons.
On Wednesday, shortly after Caine was interviewed for this article, the prime minister announced recreational marijuana will officially become legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018.