Cash-Only Cannabis: Colorado Pot Shops Work Through Financial Hiccups

COLORADO:  While the sale of recreational-use marijuana is now legal in Colorado, its status as illegal under U.S. law is leading to complications for vendors, who can’t use the federal banking system to do business.

When so-called “pot shops” opened up legally in Colorado last week, one thing they couldn’t offer shoppers was the ability to pay via credit card.

Due to differences in state and federal law regarding marijuana’s legality as well as legal concerns of the banking industry, these groundbreaking businesses, which drew national attention and more than $5 million in sales in the past week, can’t use the federal banking system. Which means that they’re stuck doing business—everything from taking customer payments to paying employees—in cold, hard cash.

“There is absolutely no justifiable reason to allow this threat to public safety to continue in those states where the regulated sale of marijuana has been made legal,” Betty Aldworth, deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), said in a statement ahead of the launch of Colorado’s legal dispensaries.