There’s no longer any need to carry your plastic into medicinal cannabis dispensaries in California, because they don’t want it. Credit cards are no longer being accepted at the collectives, whose accounts with credit card processors have been canceled, thanks to heavy pressure from the federal government.
The intermediaries between retailers and credit card companies — the merchant services providers who process customer payments — have told dispensaries that credit card transactions for cannabis will no longer be processed after July 1, according to Stephen DeAngelo, executive director of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, reports Chris Roberts at SF Weekly.
So which government agency forced medical marijuana to become a cash-only business? None has stepped forward so far to claim the “credit.”
|Steve DeAngelo of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center said the effort is part of a larger push to marginalize medical marijuana
But according to DeAngelo, Treasury Department officials pressured credit card companies, who then told merchant services providers they’d be “dropped from VISA and MasterCard forever” if they continued to process medical marijuana payments.
The effort is part of a larger push to marginalize medical marijuana, according to DeAngelo. Harborside is battling the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over allegations of unpaid business taxes.
As pointed out by SF Weekly’‘s Roberts, this forces medical marijuana patients to carry cash for their cannabis purchases, making them cash-carrying targets for petty criminals.
Harborside first announced the new cash-only policy with a Tweet and an online posting last week. Other shops, including Haight Street’s Vapor Room, also announced via the Web that they’ve now gone cash-only.
Although credit cards are no longer accepted, as of Thursday, Harborside still accepted debit cards, according to SF Weekly.
Some California dispensaries have always been cash-only; others have rented ATM machines and set them up near the counter.
In Washington state, most shops are cash-only, but a few had accepted both credit and debit cards until last weekend. Dockside Co-op, in the Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, still accepted Discover cards, but not VISA or MasterCard, as of Thursday night. ATMs are also present in many Washington shops.