Hawaii has been waiting for medical marijuana for a long time but now they have lab testing setup and are ready to go. While they have been figuring things out, one of the obvious hurdles other states that have legalized marijuana are contending with is the cash based transactions that have resulted in robberies. Hawaii has decided that it will allow patients to pay for their medical marijuana with the CanPay app instead of having to use cash for every transaction.
The CanPay app is being utilized by multiple states and transactions all link to the Safe Harbor Private Banking credit union in Colorado. Do you think Safe Harbor made a smart decision getting involved in state legal marijuana transactions?
HONOLULU — Hawaii said Tuesday that it aims to be the first state to have marijuana sales handled without cash, saying it wanted to avoid robberies and other crimes targeting dispensaries.
All of Hawaii’s eight licensed dispensaries have agreed to go cashless by Oct. 1, the governor’s office said. The dispensaries will ask patients to use a debit payment app to buy their pot instead of cash. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states, including California and Colorado.
Iris Ikeda, the state’s financial institutions commissioner, told reporters at a news conference that state officials haven’t discussed whether people wanting to pay in cash will be turned away from dispensaries.
“Oct. 1 is our target date to try to go cashless as much as we can,” Ikeda said.
Helen Cho, director of the Honolulu-based Aloha Green dispensary, said dispensaries won’t be required to go cashless and the company won’t turn away patients who want to pay in cash. The dispensary will be encouraging people to use the cashless system, she said.
Many marijuana businesses use cash because banks fear pot money could expose them to legal trouble from the U.S. government, which regulates banking and still bans marijuana.
The debit app called CanPay uses a Colorado-based credit union to facilitate transactions. The Hawaii dispensaries will set up accounts with the credit union, called Safe Harbor Private Banking.
Under the cashless system, customers use their checking accounts to pay CanPay, which sends the payment to Safe Harbor.
Hawaii was still working on allowing prepaid, stored-value cards to be used an alternative for people who don’t have checking accounts, Ikeda said.
Becky Dansky, legislative counsel at Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based organization that aims to change federal law to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies, said it’s good to find alternatives to dealing with large amounts of cash.