Thousands of dollars belonging to a charity advocating for medicinal cannabis has been returned after a bank stonewalled its moves to open an account.
United In Compassion (UIC) is a non-profit group advocating for New Zealand-based research into the therapeutic effects of cannabis-based medicines.
Kiwibank was the third bank that UIC, which has been trying to set up an account in the lead-up to a national symposium in April, has hit hurdles with.
On Wednesday afternoon Kiwibank agreed to release the money immediately but won't open an account for the group until compliance issues are sorted.
UIC co-founder Toni-Marie Matich approached Kiwibank for help in June and close to $5000 has been sitting in the account for the last month.
On Tuesday a Kiwibank manager told Matich he wasn't sure whether the account would be approved.
Initially the bank stalled over validating all the trustees but after each one spent hours in their local Kiwibank branch filling out forms Matich thought the green light would be given.
Matich's daughter, Monique, suffers from intractable epilepsy - a seizure disorder that cannot be controlled with conventional medicine.
She has been exploring the possibility of producing cannabis-based medicines in New Zealand after illegally treating her daughter with it and seeing huge improvements in her condition.
"Yesterday I was sitting in hospital with Monique, who had been ambulanced in. She was being intravenously loaded with emergency medicine after suffering hundreds of seizures by midday, and here I was on my laptop, one hand holding hers and the other emailing people trying to get to the bottom of the issue with Kiwibank."
Matich said both she and her business partner, Damas Manderson, had been told by the same Kiwibank manager that there were moral and ethical concerns about the account being set up.
"We're really struggling to get sponsors and funding because of the stigma attached to this and now it's been five months and we can't even get a bank account approved," she said.
In the meantime Matich has been forced to put expenses on her personal credit card and dip into a sum of money she received from an ACC sexual abuse sensitive claim.
"It's money I didn't want to receive and didn't want to use because of why I got it in the first place."
A spokesman for Kiwibank said there were outstanding compliance issues that the bank wasn't satisfied had been resolved, and it would write to Matich outlining what information still needed to be provided.
Kiwibank "doesn't take a stance on public issues" but there was still a possibility the bank would decline opening an account if they weren't satisfied UIC met all the criteria, a spokesman said.
Matich said there was a complete "ignorance" on the issue of medicinal cannabis..
Manderson spoke to the same Kiwibank manager on Wednesday morning who said there were issues with approving the account.
"Why would they take the money and then freeze it? They say there's a procedure to go through, but five months, really?"
Matich said the bank had never contacted her outlining what needed to be done in order to comply with their rules and if they had done so from the get-go it wouldn't have got to this.
Children's Commissioner Russell Wills is Monique's doctor and is supportive of UIC's work.
Both he and the NZ Drug Foundation executive director, Ross Bell, have provided references to the banks on behalf of UIC.
Associate health minister Peter Dunne is also working with UIC on how New Zealand could broaden access to cannabis for medicinal purposes.
"It's a bit of a disturbing trend if the bank is saying we don't agree with you and we're not going to let you set up an account."
"That would see political parties and lobbyists become an obvious target if that's the case but I suspect they're not saying that, they just don't want to get involved in the debate, which I think is prejudice," he said.