Visa and Mastercard Reject Medical Marijuana Purchases

News

By: / July 13, 2012

If you’re looking to purchase medical marijuana you’re going to have to pay cold, hard cash.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, several dispensaries across California have been rejected by credit card companies, making it difficult for customers to purchase marijuana for medical purposes.

“Visa and MasterCard are now refusing to accept your credit card charges for your medicine at many Bay Area dispensaries,” read a message sent by Vapor Room, a Bay-Area dispensary to its customers. “We are working diligently to address this issue quickly,”

While medical marijuana is legal in 17 states including the District of Columbia, Visa and Mastercard are simply not having it.

“Visa has not changed its policy,” said a San Francisco Visa representative. “Our policy is that Visa cards should only be used in connection with legal transactions. We do not allow the Visa payment system to be used for any illegal activity and have banned illegal transactions on Visa cards. Merchant banks, also known as acquirers, are responsible for ensuring that their merchant customers comply with all applicable laws.”

These particular dispensaries have also been experiencing issues with the banks as well. They are finding it difficult for institutions such as Bank of American and Wells Fargo to accept their business.

“In view of the complex, inconsistent legal environment relating to medical marijuana dispensaries, Wells Fargo Regional Banking has opted not to bank these businesses,” said Wells Fargo in a statement last year. “The policy extends to all medical marijuana dispensaries, and … we have advised all such businesses that bank with us that they will need to close their deposit accounts. Additionally, it has been our policy not to provide merchant card processing services to businesses of this type.”

While local advocates, such as Kris Hermes from Americans for Safe Access, plan to continue the fight against these restrictions, there’s now a huge concern for the safety and security of dispensaries.

“Dispensaries are now having to deal with large amounts of cash,” he told the Chronicle. “That’s not to say security at the facilities aren’t adequate, but it does put them at greater risk of being robbed. These are issues everyone is struggling with.”