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Friday, May 14, 2021

Pot shops find ways to handle cash

CORRECTION: The article, “Pot shops find ways to handle cash” published online at westernfrontonline.com and in The Western Front Tuesday, Jan. 10 stated the CanPay app allows customers to preload their account and then scan their phone on a receiving device in retailers who accept the payment method. The article should have stated CanPay allows customers to link their banking or checking account to the app. From there, CanPay generates a random, unique QR code on the customer’s phone that retailers scan on a receiving device to process the transaction.

Buying marijuana in Bellingham might become easier this year.

In late December, local cannabis shop 2020 Solutions became one of Washington state’s first recreational cannabis stores to start using a method of payment other than cash, according to the Bellingham Business Journal. 

Instead, the store has started using an app called CanPay. CanPay allows customers to preload their account and then scan their phone on a receiving device in retailers who accept the payment method.

2020 Solutions was reached for comment, but did not respond in time for publication.

Since Washington state legalized cannabis, retailers have had to conduct business on a cash-only basis. Cannabis is not currently legal under federal law, leading to issues with federally insured banks conducting business with cannabis shops.

“Every time [cash is] transported, it’s always running a risk, especially when it’s a high-end business.”

Aaron McShane

The only cost to the customer is a 99 cent annual service fee, according to CanPay’s website. This method may have the potential to be well received. Some companies have allowed certain cards but they often charge customers and retailers swiping fees.

Phillip Olson, an employee at Trove Cannabis, said CanPay would streamline the payment process by providing alternative methods, but he would want to make sure it was safe for their customers and well researched.

“In order for us to progress, people have to know why we’re at where we’re at with the lack of federalization,” Olsen said.

Having a better understanding of why things are the way they are will help with issues and stigmas surrounding the cannabis industry, Olsen said.

Rory Hogan is the manager of a local cannabis shop called Green Leaf. Hogan and his employees said working with banks directly would be very helpful, although an app is a nice step in that direction.

“I think a new app that allowed for card transactions would be a great help,” Hogan said. 

Dealing with high volumes of cash can be dangerous for employees and customers, said Aaron McShane, an employee at Green Leaf.

“Every time [cash is] transported, it’s always running a risk, especially when it’s a high-end business,” McShane said.

In a recent letter written to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Sen. Murray and others said only dealing in cash is “creating huge logistical and safety problems for communities across the country.”

With 2020 Solutions taking  progressive steps in the cannabis market and state senators pushing for legislation to make purchasing cannabis safer for all, consumers may see even greater steps as 2017 gets underway.

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