If you’re planning on visiting a marijuana dispensary, you may notice that you can only pay cash. This may seem strange if you’re used to using credit cards at other businesses and stores, but the truth is that there are several reasons why marijuana dispensaries don’t take credit cards like Visa and MasterCard. Here are four common reasons why marijuana dispensaries do not accept credit cards:
Since marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, banks are reluctant to work with cannabis-related businesses—even if they are operating legally in their state. They’re not keen on taking legal risks, even if there’s money to be made. Unfortunately, credit card processors have followed suit by rejecting payments from dispensaries. Without another form of payment option available, dispensaries have few options for earning cash flow while also paying their employees and managing overhead costs.
Avoidance of Cash From Illicit Activity
The marijuana business, though legal in some states, is still a bit of a black market industry. This means that businesses usually transact in cash as it’s generally more difficult to obtain credit with limited business credibility and limited collateral. Thus, if a marijuana dispensary receives too much money from illicit sources such as drug dealing or prostitution, its business can be at risk of having its bank accounts frozen and shut down.
Another reason marijuana dispensaries don’t take credit cards is due to related security concerns. As it is easy to run scams with credit cards, only accepting cash is the safest bet for most dispensaries. Likewise, these stores have all manner of state-of-the-art security cameras, motion sensors, and alarm systems to ensure that criminals stay away from their products. Dealing with checks and cash only keeps both them and their customers safer than dealing with any sort of plastic payment method would be.
Maintaining Customer Relationships
Another reason to accept cash only is to maintain the customers' confidentiality. Dispensary owners are concerned about maintaining relationships with their customers, many of whom do not want to submit their personal information—including credit card numbers—to cannabis businesses. Plus, dispensaries that take credit cards may be required to pay high interchange fees (2-3% for most merchants) which could drastically reduce profit margins.
Marijuana dispensaries are, by law, cash-only businesses. Keep this guide in mind the next time you plan to visit your local dispensary.