The banking situation within the cannabis industry is a big problem. Because of its cash-only model, dispensaries are easier targets for thieves looking for a quick score of cash. The industry is looking for alternatives, but it looks like Bitcoin may not be available to them much longer.
Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is widely accepted on the web and at a number of retail establishments. It is easy to transfer, can be purchased from your smartphone and allows for a secure transaction without any physical currency. Some in the cannabis world felt that it could be a great middle step between cash and credit cards.
However, Senators Steve Conway and Ann Rivers recently drafted a bill in the Washington State Senate to prohibit cannabis businesses from accepting Bitcoin for any transaction.
According to the bill, “A marijuana producer, marijuana processor, or retail outlet must not pay with or accept virtual currency for the purchase or sale of marijuana or any marijuana product.”
There are currently 28 states that allow for medical cannabis, with eight of those states legalizing cannabis for recreational use. Within these states there is a thriving industry that needs an alternative to its current cash-only business model. Some have been accepting cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin since 2014, but if this bill passes, businesses in Washington will be forced to return to accepting only cash.
Of course this problem stems from the federal government not recognizing cannabis as a legal product. Because of the differing laws between states and country, major banks and credit cards are not available for use.
There are rumblings that a bill like this would spur action within the cannabis community. This bill unfairly targets the cannabis industry and puts lives in jeopardy. If the burgeoning cannabis market wants to take the next step, they need the support of the banking industry. Financial institutions will eventually jump at the chance to participate, because in the end, our money is just as good as the rest.