Plastic For Pot Purchases
In the beginning, it was all about green. Yes, when Colorado legalized the sale and use of marijuana for recreational use at the beginning of 2014, most people immediately thought of the leafy green plant that had previously been illegal to smoke or eat.
But once the reality that the availability of recreational marijuana presented a multi-billion dollar industry sunk in, a different kind of green became just as important: money. And that turned out to be a problem. Although marijuana sales were deemed legal in Colorado, the federal government maintains its prohibition on the sale and use of pot. Because of that, and because of the reluctance of big financial services companies like Visa and MasterCard to anger the feds, cash became king for marijuana purchases. But the green for green transactions have undoubtedly put a damper on business; customers who have to carry dollar bills frequently buy less than they would if they could use a credit or debit card.
But the use of plastic for pot purchases seems to be gaining momentum. Earlier this year The Denver Post reported that Visa and MasterCard were leaving it up to local merchant banks to decide whether or not to process marijuana purchases using credit and debit cards bearing their logos.
Then on April 15 MJ Merchant Solutions, a Denver-based provider of electronic payment processing services to businesses, announced the release of an end-to-end solution for recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries to accept credit, debit and prepaid debit cards. According to MJ Merchant Solutions’ director of marketing, Kenneth Cade, this new rollout will be a boon to marijuana retailers. “Credit card processing will reduce the number of cash transactions, saving dispensaries in labor costs, reducing the risk of theft and loss, as well as automating, expediting and making the check-out process more convenient for the consumer,” he says.
Not coincidentally, this move is also about green. According to Cade, medical marijuana dispensaries conducted $2 billion in cash transactions, an amount that doesn’t include recreational pot use. MJ Merchants Solutions expects there will be $50 billion in legal marijuana sales over the next six years. By making a move to become the payment processor of choice in the marijuana world, the company undoubtedly hopes that a lot of that green will be coming its way.