The Cannabis Payment Processing Experience in a Legal Dispensary

The Cannabis Payment Processing Experience in a Legal Dispensary

We were among the 27,000 professionals to attend MJBizCon 2018 in Las Vegas last week because, like many payments companies, the good folks at Instabill are hopeful of providing cannabis payment processing in the near future.

For us, it was on the cab ride from McCarran Airport to the Las Vegas Convention Center that the enormity of the impact of legal cannabis was a reality. Billboards and taxi cabs advertising cannabis shops. Massive cannabis shop signs around the city, mindful of the Citgo sign that overlooks the Fenway section of Boston. The message was clear: Cannabis is legal here, and we’re open for business (some 24 hours).

Where were all the cannabis payment companies?

Among the 27,000 at MJBizCon, we were among only a handful of payments companies to attend — we blame the lack of banking resources in the U.S. for our industry’s sparse representation at the show. Among the new relationships and a who’s who of industry experts, one of the highlights for us was a visit to a retail cannabis dispensary, one of many in the city and throughout the Silver State.

Our experience, purely educational, was eye-opening.

Prior to our flight back east, we visited a growing chain, we’ll call DispensaryRX, more Apple Store than cannabis dispensary. Upon arrival, we were halted at the entry since the store was at capacity (it was 1:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon). While waiting, my colleague and I had to produce our driver’s licenses which were examined, scanned and photographed. After five minutes, we entered to meet one of two security guards, quick to tell us to place our luggage in a certain area of the store. We happily obliged.

Within seconds we were met by a young woman, who shall be called Faith, who asked us some general questions about what we were looking for. We informed her we were first-timers in a dispensary, here for educational purposes and curious to find out more about DispensaryRX’s products. Faith was one of a dozen employees helping customers that afternoon, seemingly all of them not lacking for enthusiasm.

Cannabis products — in leaf form, vapor, edibles and drinks — were enclosed in display cases, each with six terminals enabling customers to find out everything they needed to know about any product.

  • Level of THC
  • Level of CBD
  • Weight, in which all products were sold

Each of the products were color coded:

  • Navy blue (high CBD): High in CBD without psychoactive effects.
  • Green (CBD blend): Subtle euphoric effects and moderate side effects.
  • Orange: (Saliva): Euphoric, uplifting effect perfect for daytime use.
  • Red (Saliva dominant): High THC promoting focus and composure perfect for creative endeavors.
  • Purple (Hybrid): Manages severe symptoms of various conditions with subtle euphoric effects.
  • Sky blue (Indica dominant): High THC that promotes maximum relaxation and sense of transcendence.
  • Black (Indica): Relaxing sedative effect perfect for nighttime use.

We peppered Faith with countless questions, each of which she answered clearly, confidently and happy to oblige. Edibles came in the form of lollipops, gummy bears, assorted chocolates and infused drinks. ‘It’s where the industry is going, away from traditional smoke,’ she informed us.

We asked Faith to describe DispensaryRX’s clientele. She said she had seen every conceivable walk of life: first-time users, long-time users and those just curious; military veterans seeking a solution for PTSD; those celebrating their 21st birthday and senior citizens; those terminally ill with cancer, folks undergoing chemotherapy, suffering from Crohn’s disease and epilepsy.

We decided to purchase a hard candy-like, lemon-flavored nugget, with equal levels of CBD and THC coded orange, for little more than $20. We were presented a small form which requested a name, product and product number, all of which Faith completed and we signed. Faith then brought it to the checkout counter.

I was most curious as to how we were going to pay for our product. We had the necessary cash, but we purposely wanted to use a card to see if it would be accepted. Prior to checkout, I asked Faith how DispensaryRX was accepting payments.

‘Cash and debit,’ she said, which surprised us. As we approached the checkout counter, I asked how DispensaryRX was able to process debit card transactions since cannabis was still illegal by federal law.

‘We have our own bank that allows us to process debit transactions,’ she explained.

Surely our cannabis payment transaction be declined

I was still skeptical of a debit card payment. In the past, when traveling to cross country and international trade shows, we’ve found that credit and debit card transactions are often declined, since purchases far away from our home base of Portsmouth, N.H., are erroneously flagged for possible fraudulent use. Such occasions follow with a phone call to our credit card issuer to resolve the decline.

Here we were, across the country purchasing a cannabis product in a dispensary. DispensaryRX may have their own in-house bank to process transactions, but we still fully expected a decline. However, the transaction went through, as seamlessly as if we were purchasing a cup of coffee. Our product was placed in a secure, child-proof package, and our fact-finding mission was complete.

As we went to retrieve our luggage, the security guard stationed at the entry door quickly motioned us to the exit at the other end of the store, also monitored by a guard. Part of DispensaryRX’s stringent security policy is one entry, one exit. We informed him we needed to grab our luggage, and were off to catch our flight back to New England.

En route to the airport, we wondered if having the product in possession would be an issue as we tried to board our flight. It wasn’t.

The entire experience was safe, easy, seamless. Perhaps more important, the staff at DispensaryRX could not have been more accommodating, while the store’s security practices were/are rock solid, virtually guaranteed to block minors from entry.

More than ever, the store experience — as well as MJBizCon — left us believing that this is where the U.S. is headed.

Cannabis payment services with Instabill

We believe that upcoming federal legislation in 2019 will positively impact the cannabis industry — in that proper banking resources for cannabis merchants and dispensaries will be possible.

Currently, Instabill can offer both a debit card solution and a crypto currency solution through a partner, enabling cannabis payment processing through a point of sale and/or an in-store crypto currency ATM — with real-time conversion — to alleviate mass amounts of cash. Additionally, Instabill has payment solutions for related industries such as:

Have a conversation with a merchant account manager today at 1-800-530-2444.

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