Cannabis Dispensaries in Hawaii First To Go Cashless

In a move that put his state’s medical marijuana program in a league of its own, Hawaii’s Governor David Yutaka Ige announced that by October 1st all Hawaii cannabis dispensaries will be capable of accepting payments for cannabis without cash. Many are praising the governor for this significant step forward. Governor Ige says this solution also “allows the dispensaries to be able to write checks and do all of the normal financial transactions that most businesses would do.” Before this decision, cannabis dispensaries in Hawaii could only accept cash payments – which made them vulnerable targets for criminals.

Origins Of Hawaii’s Medical Marijuana Program

The State of Hawaii legalized medical marijuana in 2000.

The state of Hawaii.
Map of Hawaii, the first state to allow cashless cannabis purchases.

However, due to a legal grey area, the only way for patients to gain access to cannabis was by growing their own, or by having a legal “caregiver” grow cannabis for them. Dispensaries were not allowed in the state for the first fifteen years. This made it impossible for some terminally ill patients to access medication without using the cannabis black market. In 2015, Hawaii took a major step forward when HB 321 was passed. This bill clearly laid out a legal framework that allowed for grow facilities and cannabis dispensaries in Hawaii.

Since the implementation of HB 321, medical marijuana patients in Hawaii have been able to purchase cannabis safely and legally. While allowing dispensaries to open and operate legally is a major victory for the state, there is still one critical issue that has plagued marijuana businesses across the United States. Due to the federal illegality of cannabis, financial institutions rarely provide banking services to dispensaries and their employees. Because of this inability to apply for loans, open accounts, or apply for credit cards, most dispensaries are forced to operate on a cash only basis.

Why Cash-Only Businesses Are A Terrible Idea

There are countless concerns that a business faces when it only accepts cash. The most obvious concern is safety. Operating as a cash only businesses means cannabis dispensaries are stuck with large sums of cash at all times. This makes them an ideal target for robberies, which puts the safety of dispensary workers and customers at risk. To quell the risk of burglary, dispensaries often have security systems, cameras, and guards. The extra security needed to guard such large quantities of cash force larger dispensaries to spend upwards of $50,000 dollars a year on security alone. While these costs are a necessity at the moment, this money could be utilized in a more productive manner.

How Technology Is New Focus For Hawaii Dispensaries

In an attempt to lighten the burden that cash only requirements put on cannabis dispensaries and patients alike, changes will be taking place starting October 1st. The three cannabis dispensaries in Hawaii that are currently open and operating, along with the six that are scheduled to open soon, will begin utilizing an app called CanPay. This app allows patients to link their checking accounts to the app. Then, when they are prepared to make a purchase at a  dispensary, the patient enters their own unique code to confirm the purchase. The app will allow customers to easily purchase the cannabis products they need, without being forced to pay ATM fees or go out of their way to withdraw cash from a bank.

Hawaii medical marijuana patients will no longer be forced to use ATMS.

For dispensaries, it provides a sense of security since they no longer have to store large sums of cash on site.

By working with tech companies like CanPay, security, speed of service and patient satisfaction for cannabis businesses is improving. Hawaii recognizes the technological advancements that are affecting the cannabis industry. Whether it be more efficient lighting for growing cannabis, cultivation technologies, or maximizing crop space, technological advancements typically manifest in the growing phase of the cannabis product cycle. However, Hawaii has decided to utilize the available technology to make the cannabis experience for dispensaries and customers more safe.

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