Online brokerage users complain of glitches amid broad plunge in pot stocks

TORONTO — Traders using at least two major online discount brokerage platforms are complaining of sporadic outages and expressing frustration that the latest glitch has tied their hands amidst a broad plunge in marijuana stocks.

Clients of TD Bank’s WebBroker and Royal Bank’s RBC Direct Investing platforms have again taken to social media to gripe about problems, after facing similar issues in recent days.

A TD spokesman says “unprecedented” trading volume continues to drive some intermittent delays for its online and mobile WebBroker clients, and the bank rolled out a broad update on Tuesday night to increase the platform’s capacity.

“Our technical teams are working quickly to resolve this issue,” said spokesman Paolo Pasquini. “We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.”

RBC spokesman AJ Goodman had a similar message, saying “heavy trading volumes” were to blame for service issues, and that a fix was in the works.

Brandon Colwell, an economics student and WebBroker user, says he has lost at least $8,000 as a result of the latest outage. The problems faced Thursday, as well as the outages on Dec. 29 and on Jan. 2, appear to be coinciding with surges in trading activity in the cannabis sector.

“This is the worst pullback I’ve seen in the cannabis sector in well over a year. … It’s incredible that these are corresponding,” he said.

Several marijuana companies took a major hit Thursday — with shares of Canada’s biggest licensed producer Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) down as much as 19 per cent — after the Associated Press reported U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions planned to rescind an Obama-era policy that allowed legalized pot to flourish in states south of the border.

Under U.S. federal law it remains illegal to cultivate, distribute, or possess the drug but the Obama administration had issued a guidance in 2013 known as the “Cole Memorandum” which suggested the federal government would not intervene in states where the drug is legal. More than two dozen states have legalized medical marijuana, and California is the latest state to legalize the recreational use of weed, as of Jan. 1. Later Thursday, Sessions released an official memo rescinding the Cole Memorandum.

Many Canadian marijuana companies saw double-digit plunges in their share price on the news, before regaining some ground by the afternoon.

And at least four cannabis-related firms listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange were temporarily halted today, according to the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, due to the single-stock circuit breaker rule which limits sudden price swings of stocks.

Watching this brisk activity in the marijuana sector was particularly frustrating for bookkeeper and WebBroker user Pat Martin, who was unable to make any trades online.

“They were crashing so I was looking to sell, and then buy back in when it bottomed out. But obviously I couldn’t do that at all… It’s just an endless issue,” she said.

It’s unclear whether the brisk activity in the marijuana sector is connected to the spike in trading volumes and brokerage problems, but the timing is unfortunate.

On Dec. 29, when these brokerage clients began experiencing glitches, IIROC temporarily halted trading on several Canadian-listed marijuana companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange due to the single-stock circuit breaker rule. The stocks briefly halted included Canopy, Aphria (TSX:APH) and Aurora Cannabis (TSX:ACB).

And on Jan. 2, when TD WebBroker users complained of problems, shares of Aurora, Canopy and Aphria saw brisk trading volumes as well.

Other online brokerages, including Bank of Montreal’s Investorline and CIBC’s Investor’s Edge said Thursday they are not experiencing outages but some clients are experiencing phone wait times due to the volume of activity.

CIBC spokesman Jason Wesley says it is “experiencing record high trading volumes” but clients can continue to trade on its online platform.

BMO spokesman Ralph Marranca says that other than a brief website outage on Dec. 27, when clients could still trade via its call centre, its brokerage remains functional.

“Like those across the industry, we are experiencing higher-than-normal volumes,” he said. “We apologize for the increased wait time that clients are experiencing. We have added call centre staff to increase capacity for our customers and customers can also continue to access their accounts through our website as well as their mobile app or tablet.”

Just Posted

Cannabis facility proposed for Clearwater County

Cannabis production facility proposed south of Caroline would produce 30,000 kg of cannabis a year

Two Central Alberta country singers are finalists in career-launching contest

They will attend music industry ‘boot camp’ this summer

Transit changes to aid Burman University students

An additional evening trip and student bus passes to be in place by fall

WATCH: Province, Maskwacis Cree Nations sign educational agreement

Funding and support will help the First Nations develop a Cree-based curriculum

WATCH: Red Deer celebrates World Refugee Day

The Central Alberta Refugee Effort hosted multiple events around Red Deer Wednesday

New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall wins Hart Trophy as NHL MVP

LAS VEGAS — Taylor Hall has won the Hart Trophy as the… Continue reading

Red Deer high school student psyched for SHAD

Lindsay Thurber’s Kaden Nivens will head to Newfoundland for the annual program in July

Red Deer College team tackles lack of Indigneous inclusion in research projects

A local college research team has completed a lengthy project examining the… Continue reading

Officials make case against parents accused of child abuse

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Prosecutors made their case Wednesday against a Southern California… Continue reading

Manitoba educational assistant sentenced to 3 1/5 years for sex with student

WINNIPEG — A former educational assistant in Winnipeg has been sentenced to… Continue reading

Conservatives can ‘win anywhere,’ Scheer says in welcoming Richard Martel

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer welcomed the newest member of his… Continue reading

Fans grieve as detectives search for XXXTentacion’s killers

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — For hours, the fans came in a steady… Continue reading

Canadian steel not a national security threat on its own: US commerce secretary

OTTAWA — The U.S. commerce secretary says Canada is not a national… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month