What You Should Know About Cryptocurrencies And Legal Cannabis

By Alex M

In 2012, when Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana for recreational use, the whole cannabis community celebrated the beginning of the end of pot prohibition.   Something many people wanted to see had finally happened,  but while many entrepreneurs have joined the Green Rush, they have encountered more challenges and business hurdles than most expected. One of the biggest issues facing the budding industry is the lack of traditional payment methods for buying cannabis at legal pot shops.

At the same time that we as a society are transitioning to a cashless society — legal cannabis remains primarily an all-cash business.  Cash the only form of currency accepted at most dispensaries and legal cannabis stores as marijuana remains federally illegal as a schedule 1 controlled substance.  This makes it harder for banks to accept any money coming from cannabis entities — even in legal states.

The $10 billion legal US marijuana industry has taken it upon themselves to expand their payment methods. Two cash alternatives that are increasingly being used are cryptocurrencies and loaded debit cards.

Cryptocurrencies in Dispensaries

Bitcoin, the first digital currency came out in 2009 and the technology has been improving ever since. Since then several cannabis specific cryptocurrencies have been released.  Among those making headlines:

Bitcoin: Bitcoin had a great run in 2017 and that is a partial reason why people are not looking to spend any. Everyone is hoarding their Bitcoins hoping the price is going to go up again. Besides that, Bitcoin is not meant to be an everyday currency. It is more of a store of wealth since transaction fees have become too expensive. However, some places are creating their own tokens which can be traded with Bitcoin.

A dispensary in San Diego called Medicine Man Club created what people call, “a country club for marijuana.”  They created a token called Medicine Man Token (MMT) and they use it for everything inside the marijuana events space, almost like Dave and Busters or Chuck E. Cheese. Instead of walking up to the arcade games and putting in quarters, you use the specific tokens. You use the tokens to buy cannabis and other related products. The Medicine Man Tokens can be purchased with cash, Potcoin or Bitcoin.

Potcoin: One of the most used cyber currencies inside dispensaries is Potcoin. It enjoyed first-mover advantage, and it is being marketed brilliantly, with a mobile app that is easy to pay inside the shop with a QR code. According to Potcoins blockchain explorer, there are new transactions happening every couple of minutes.

Reasons it Won’t Work

Cryptocurrencies offer many benefits for dispensaries, including giving customers the option to pay more freely, but it does come with its own set of problems. Zachary Zises, a Chicago dispensary owner said, “We have too many strict state and federal standards to meet, and right now, the cryptocurrencies don’t allow us to meet those high standards.”  Matt Karnes, founder of GreenWave Advisors agrees, “Because cryptocurrencies are so controversial, we believe its use raises added concern for the cannabis industry, which already faces its own unique challenges for banking and do not consider it a viable option at this point in time.”

Alternative Payments

Since cryptocurrencies have not gone through mass adoption, it is hard for many people to use them for now.  Many still prefer debit cards, so it is not surprising to pre-loaded debit cards being adopted as an alternative to relying on fee-heavy ATMs to make cannabis purchases.

CanPay: Dubbed as the “first legitimate debit payment system for cannabis purchases,” CanPay is making it easier to buy your favorite strain. Tim Cullen, who owns Colorado Harvest Company said, “CanPay solves one of these pain points for us as a business.” People are flocking to CanPay because of their low fees and they’re even confident they will have the lowest fee structure, even after Visa and Mastercard start doing business with dispensaries.

POSaBIT: This is a startup that lets people buy legal weed with their credit cards. It is in the form of a credit card but it is linked to your Bitcoin or Litecoin. POSaBIT works connecting the card to you Bitcoin or Litecoin wallet. When you want to buy your legal weed, you simply swipe the card which takes the money out from your crypto wallet. It is one of the most used alternative payments in the cannabis industry since it has processed over $2million worth of sales in 30 stores total since inception.

GreenMed: A very popular debit card is the GreenMed and the interesting part is it’s connected to the blockchain. Simply add your credit or debit card information to your account and Greenmed can be used to pay at dispensaries. All information is relayed back to the blockchain which gives you an open and transparent source to check all data of a purchase.

Alex has been very deep in the cryptocurrency space for the last 3 years soaking in everything there is to know. With such a new industry popping up, Alex is constantly sharing about the latest news and updates in cryptocurrencies on CoinPupil. 


Bitcoin’s Rise Solidifies The Intersection Of Cannabis And Cryptocurrency

NEW YORK: As bitcoin’s price continues its meteoric rise, which has seen the cryptocurrency skyrocket in value from just under $1,000 at the start of 2017 to above $10,000 in November, a number of companies have taken steps to benefit from the growth of the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry.

One area of the industry that appears to offer significant growth potential is the application of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to sectors of the economy, such as the cannabis industry, that are blocked from accessing banking services. 

The intersection of the growth of the cannabis and cryptocurrency markets has created a promising environment for firms looking to capitalize on the robust growth currently occurring in these industries. Legalization of the use of cannabis for medical and recreational use by governments around the world has led to powerful demand for the product, which shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. This is reflected in a report by Grand View Research, which projects that the cannabis market will reach $55.8 billion by 2025.

Similarly, the ability of the blockchain to provide a decentralized, encrypted ledger to store records in an efficient, verifiable manner without requiring assistance from intermediaries has facilitated growth in the cryptocurrency market. The blockchain serves as the backbone of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and its radical transparency has enabled the use of bitcoin to process high risk transactions, such as those in the cannabis industry. In a sign of the growing mainstream acceptance of the cryptocurrency, the U.S. CFTC recently gave approval to the CME CBOE exchanges to start trading bitcoin future contracts on Dec. 18 of this year.


GreenMed Launches Cryptocurrency-Based Credit Card Processing App For Legal Marijuana Industry

CALIFORNIA: Pro-cannabis cryptocurrency startup GreenMed has become the world’s first one-stop shop for electronic payments in the legal marijuana industry. The platform enables customers to pay for legal marijuana with credit and debit cards. Apart from allowing card payment at dispensaries, the platform also allows users to pre-purchase for quick pick-up over its app.

GreenMed is the first platform to implement an ERC20 Ethereum token-backed application for the convenience of both customers and legal marijuana dispensary operators. The platform uses cutting-edge electronic payment processing technology in conjunction with Ethereum blockchain to execute credit card transactions.

Due to strict federal regulations, banks have been unable to partner with legal marijuana dispensaries, leaving cryptocurrencies like Ethereum as one of the only options to help the $5 billion industry accept mainstream electronic payments like credit/debit cards and electronic fund transfers. They can also choose to pay with digital currencies.

While the GreenMed application allows patients to pay for their legal marijuana with credit cards and cryptocurrencies, merchants can be issued GreenMed debit cards which enable them to withdraw accumulated funds directly from any ATM. The GreenMed debit cards can also be used at PoS and online payment gateways to make purchases, just like any other debit card.

In addition to convenience, GreenMed also provides a secure option for legal marijuana dispensaries to handle their earnings. In the absence of such a solution, the dispensaries are forced to conduct all transactions in cash which not only increases the risk of theft but also cuts into the margins due to high operational costs involved in securing and transporting cash.

You May Soon Get Bitcoin-Bought Cannabis Delivered by Drone

CALIFORNIA: A company near San Francisco has come up with a novel way to deliver bitcoin-purchased marijuana, via drone.

Trees, which claims to sell the “highest quality” medicinal cannabis to people holding a medical recommendation, accepts payments in bitcoin alongside traditional payment methods such as cash, online bank transfer and credit cards.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed that drone deliveries were not currently available, due to local regulations. The drone delivery option, the spokesperson said, would be rolled-out in the future if and when the regulation around the flying devices settled. Currently users will get their packages delivered by “old fashioned in-house drivers”.

For now, users are required to provide their Californian driving license and medical cannabis recommendation when ordering online. To get medical approval, consumers must have a short evaluation with a doctor, either online or at a clinic.

Users must give the medical reason for their use of cannabis, declare any pre-existing health conditions, confirm whether they’ve used cannabis before and state their preferred method of ingestion.


Medical Marijuana Dispensary Becomes Canada’s First to Accept Bitcoin

CANADA:  Mega Chill has become the first medical marijuana dispensary in Canada to accept bitcoin.

Since the formal announcement this September, Mega Chill has seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, both from patients familiar with bitcoin and customers who had never heard of the digital currency.

The relationship between bitcoin and the marijuana industry is long-standing due to bitcoin’s ability to offer an alternative to the traditional banking system and its still-prevalent use in online dark markets.

In the case of Mega Chill, however, the decision had less to do with sidestepping potential money problems and more to do with the growing popularity of bitcoin as a payment method. CoinDesk spoke with co-owner Matt Jung, who cited the public’s curiosity and enthusiasm for digital currency as the reason his business decided to accept bitcoin.


These 'Bitcoins For Marijuana' Try To Solve Legal Weed's Big Heist Problem

Bitcoin isn’t the only digital currency changing the way we pay for things. Two new cryptocurrencies aimed at allowing people to safely buy drugs — legal or illegal — may provide new payment alternatives to the largely cash-only industries.

Their developers promise safety and security — and they just may change the course of the drug war in the process.

PotCoin and DopeCoin won’t be the first digital currencies to follow the headline-grabbing, wildly fluctuating and unregulated Bitcoins that took the digital world by storm last year. But they’ll be the first dedicated solely to the drug marketplace, which has been largely shunned by traditional banks, even in its legal forms in some U.S. states.