Uruguay's recent attempt to allow licensed pharmacies to sell recreational cannabis came to a sudden halt after the country’s disgruntled banks threatened to close the pharmacies' accounts. This July, sixteen pharmacies across the country were allowed to begin selling government-grown cannabis to any adult, but shortly thereafter, the very same pharmacies began receiving letters from their banks threatening to shut down accounts unless they stopped selling marijuana.
Even though cannabis is entirely legal in the country, global banks decided that they didn't want to take the risk of violating international finance laws by dealing with a drug that is still prohibited in most countries. Even Banco Republica, the country's state-owned bank, shied away from allowing their account-holders to sell cannabis.
According to ABC News, In response to the situation, the Uruguayan government will scrap its plan to sell weed in pharmacies, and will now open cash-only retail cannabis shops throughout the country. Like their counterparts in the U.S., these businesses will need to forego traditional bank accounts and deal entirely in cash. Employment laws in Uruguay make this especially difficult, as employers are required to pay all employees by direct deposit, which is impossible without a bank account.
There are currently 13,500 registered cannabis users in the country, and that number has been constantly rising since the country legalized the drug in 2013.