Uruguay's former president Jose Mujica has launched an attack on the nation's banks for setting back his plans to combat drug trafficking by legalising the sale of state marijuana.
Speaking in a television interview, Mujica was visibly angry and said the financial authorities should resign if they cannot resolve the issue.
His statement comes a day after the President of the state-owned Banco Republica, BROU, Jorge Polgar, confirmed that the institution had decided to close the accounts of all chemists with links to the sale of cannabis.
Polgar said "The institution will not maintain commercial relations with the pharmacies authorized to sell marijuana,".
He added that doing so would "lead to the financial isolation of BROU and its clients, preventing it from carrying out any type of operation with an international counterpart."
Several private banks have already decided to take similar action.
Mujica was in power from 2011-2015. During his term in office, he promoted the regulation of the production and sale of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The legislation was approved in 2013.
But the financial institutions claim that they cannot operate, according to international law, with accounts related to drug marketing.
So far only 16 pharmacies have been authorized to sell marijuana produced by private companies under full control of the state.
On Wednesday, representatives from the pharmacies met the government to look for alternatives, although several merchants are already discussing halting the sale of the drug to avoid being excluded from the financial system.
They are due to meet again next Monday and the government has promised to make a concrete proposal.
Pharmacy sales of marijuana started on July 19, with about 5,000 officially registered buyers.
In 15 days the number of users climbed to more than 11,000.
The law also allows access to the drug through self-cultivation and cannabis clubs.