Hawaii seeks to limit cash in medical marijuana dispensary sales

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(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

Hawaii regulators announced plans to be the first state to conduct marijuana sales without cash, saying they want to avoid robberies and other crimes targeting medical cannabis dispensaries.

All of Hawaii’s eight licensed dispensaries have agreed to go cashless by Oct. 1, the governor’s office said.

The dispensaries will ask patients to use a debit payment app, CanPay, instead of cash to buy their MMJ. The app is already an option for marijuana transactions in six states, including California and Colorado.

Helen Cho, director of Honolulu-based Aloha Green, said dispensaries won’t be required to go cashless and her company won’t turn away patients who want to pay in cash. The dispensary will encourage people to use CanPay, she said.

CanPay uses a Colorado-based credit union, Safe Harbor Private Banking, to facilitate transactions. Some mainland credit unions have opened accounts for cannabis businesses.

Hawaii MMJ patients who don’t own smartphones will have to create CanPay accounts with an email address and personal identification number.

They then will be able buy MMJ by logging on to their accounts with computer tablets at the dispensaries.

Many marijuana businesses use cash because banks fear cannabis money could expose them to legal trouble from the U.S. government.

There is also uncertainty over how the Trump administration will react. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he wants to crack down on the legal marijuana industry.

Credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard say they won’t allow their cards to be used to buy cannabis or marijuana-related products.

– Associated Press