A company that wants to do away with cash-only options for buying medical marijuana products is coming to Maryland. The marijuana-oriented debit option, called CanPay, will be available at several of the dispensaries including Greenhouse Wellness in Howard County. Read the full article as it appeared in the Baltimore Business Journal right here:
Baltimore Business Journal December 7, 2017 By Morgan Eichensehr, Reporter
A company that wants to do away with cash-only options for buying medical marijuana products is coming to Maryland. The marijuana-oriented debit option, called CanPay, will be available at several of the 102 dispensaries statewide that are set to open their doors in the coming months - and the company plans to continue expanding to the remaining locations as the industry gets up and running.
CanPay, based in Colorado, has found a way to navigate some complicated financial problems surrounding state marijuana markets, so patients can pay for their cannabis products as they are used to paying for everything else. It is an option already available in about 100 dispensaries in seven other states. And Dustin Eide, CEO of CanPay, said it is now ready to tackle the newly launched Maryland market. Medical marijuana is legal and almost ready to be sold in Maryland, but federally, the drug is still classified as a Schedule 1 illegal substance. Accordingly, purchases involving cannabis products - medical or otherwise - are not allowed through major credit processors like Visa, American Express or MasterCard. Typically, when you use your credit or debit card at a retail store, any purchase is processed through a payment network owned by one of the major credit entities. Without normal federal permissions, however, many dispensary operations have ended up having to rely on cash-only transactions, or find other ways to subvert the credit rules, like using a entity different name so that the charge that shows up on a financial statement doesn't look like it came from a dispensary. Some financial institutions are still able to work with medical cannabis institutions, though, thanks to some non-legislative moves by federal officials and Department of the Treasury.
CanPay has developed an app-based platform that allows patients to pay for cannabis products electronically through their own debit accounts. It then allows the transactions to be processed by dispensaries through those federally-compliant financial institutions. The app is free for consumers to use and CanPay takes in about two percent of any transaction made through the platform.
Eide said CanPay's ultimate goal is to bring ease and transparency to cannabis retailing. "By working with dispensaries, working with those compliant financial institutions, we don't have to worry about using different entity names or circumventing laws," Eide said. "When patients come in to purchase their cannabis products, they can be treated as they would at any other business." Any charge made through CanPay appears on a patient's banking statement with the dispensary's real name, Eide said.
And patients don't have to worry about carrying enough cash around or being limited on the supply they can buy at a given time. Greenhouse Wellness dispensary in Howard County, owned by Gina Dubbe, is one of the Maryland businesses that will be integrating CanPay. She would like to get the shop as close to being cash-free as possible, she said. She even plans to offer a 5 percent discount to patients who chose to sign up and pay through for CanPay. "It's less risk for us and our patients than having to deal entirely in cash," Dubbe said. "We were looking at different options for how we could incorporate a non-cash option and CanPay was the most compliant and viable option we came across."