NEW YORK (CBS) — Marijuana is legal in some form in more than half the country, but using a credit card to buy it is nearly impossible.
Now, a cannabis company is changing that, CBS News’ Kenneth Craig reports.
Juanita Parker-Reed goes to a Columbia Care dispensary for medical marijuana to treat her chronic pain. Until recently, she always had to pay cash for her prescription, spending as much as $400 a month.
Even though many states allow the drug, it’s illegal under federal law, so most credit card networks won’t allow their cards to be used in stores that sell marijuana.
“You have this industry, which is measured in the tens of billions of dollars, and people can’t transact using normal forms of commerce,” said Nicholas Vita, CEO and co-founder of Columbia Care.
His company recently decided to launch its own credit card, so now Parker-Reed and other Columbia Care customers can make purchases without having to carry large amounts of cash.
“Now I can get things that I need. I can get the creams to rub on my skin. I can get the capsules to take at night,” Parker-Reed said.
“The conflict, really, between federal and state law really cuts through every aspect of this industry,” said journalist Alex Halperin, of WeedWeek.net.
Halperin is following landmark legislation in Washington that could make transactions in the weed world easier.
The bill, now before the Senate, would allow legal marijuana businesses to work with big banks.
“It seems to have a fair amount of momentum. Of all the things that the cannabis industry wants, this is probably the easiest ask,” Halperin said.
If passed, the credit cards most people carry could be used to buy marijuana products.
But Parker-Reed doesn’t have to wait. She can make her purchases with plastic now.
Like any credit card, customers have to qualify and the average interest rate is around 15%.