Beginning Oct. 1, Hawaii will be the first state in the U.S. to require cashless-only cannabis sales.
A Colorado-based credit union will permit dispensaries in Hawaii to open bank accounts, and a debit app called CanPay will enable patients to purchase cannabis with their smartphones. The app is currently in use in six states, but Hawaii will be the first to use it exclusively for medical marijuana transactions.
Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, most banks and credit card companies refuse to work with cannabis industry. As a result, marijuana businesses are forced into cash-only transactions, making day-to-day operations tedious and putting dispensaries and employees at risk for robberies and other crime.
To put the amount of cash floating around the marijuana market in perspective, consider that Colorado consistently makes $100 million in pot sales every month (with California expected to dwarf that number)–that’s a lot of physical money, and most businesses don’t to have anywhere to put it.
Having access to banking is a big deal in the cannabis industry–and widespread access probably won’t happen until Congress decides to deschedule marijuana.
Hawaii was one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, but dispensaries weren’t legalized until 2015.
The state Department of Health delayed the roll-out of medical marijuana until this year because the state didn’t have a certified lab–putting dispensaries in the unenviable position of growing and harvesting plants that they weren’t allowed to sell.
So far, there are eight licensed dispensaries in the state: Three on Oahu, two on Hawaii Island and two on Maui. The state’s first two medical marijuana dispensaries opened last month.