The New York Times today has an article, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/17/business/dealbook/as-marijuana-sales-grow-start-ups-step-in-for-wary-banks.html?ref=todayspaper, that speaks to one of the most pressing issues facing the establishment of a well functioning medical or adult use marijuana program governed by State law. The article states that “The State of Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2014, joining several other states where the drug has been decriminalized in some form, but Visa and MasterCard will not process transactions for pot dispensaries and most banks will not open accounts for the businesses — leaving dispensaries dealing with a constant influx of cash, and nowhere good to put it.” The arm of the Treasury Department responsible for enforcing money-laundering laws has provided guidelines for banks that want to work with marijuana-related businesses. But federally regulated banks have generally refused to open accounts, and credit card companies have prohibited transactions from going across their networks.
The problem of marijuana businesses managing the endless flow of dirty, dangerous, hard-to-track cash, may have a solution Start up companies such as Tokken , Hypur and Kind Financial, have been putting together software that helps banks and dispensaries monitor and record transactions, with the long-term goal of moving transactions away from cash. The hope is that the transaction transparency offered by these start ups will make banks feel comfortable opening up accounts for the start-ups. The above referenced article provides some hope that the banking and credit card transaction issues may have some solution if these startups can gain the confidence of financial institutions and regulators.