Legal medical marijuana (cannabis) dispensaries face unique challenges when it comes to accepting credit cards from their customers. Being a cash-only business is restrictive, and why should customers with legal prescriptions be inconvenienced by limited payment methods? 


Medical marijuana merchant account services and credit card processing is an industry in dire need of less restrictive regulation.  For many banks and credit card companies, medical marijuana dispensaries are considered “high-risk” ventures.  There are a few reasons for this, one being how new these businesses still are, meaning they don’t have long, reliable credit histories upon which to refer to and possible legislative action against banks who work with them.


Why are medical marijuana merchant accounts considered high risk?

First, it’s still a young area of commerce in the U.S. without an established record of economic stability to convince financial institutions to support.  Second, medical marijuana dispensaries are not legal in all states, so there is a concern for illegal usage of services provided.  A merchant account might also be considered high risk if the account provides goods or services that hold a social stigma.  Still another reason for the high risk designation is if companies are concerned that there are too many potential legal complications interacting with state and local authorities. 


Is the climate changing for medical marijuana merchant accounts?

Yes, but slowly.  More banking groups are considering the potential benefits to be gained by supporting medical marijuana dispensaries and associated businesses.  However, while the social stigma associated with medical marijuana has lessened in recent years, the passing of hard banking regulations in 2011 and 2013 greatly restricted access to merchant accounts by dispensaries.  

Currently, there are a few high risk merchant account service providers that will allow legal dispensaries to accept credit card payments from their customers.  Hopefully, as the industry grows legal restrictions will be lifted in the name of fair and easy access to medicine by prescription-carrying patients. 


What else should I know about high risk merchant accounts and credit card processors?

If you are looking for a processor there are a few things you should keep in mind.  Choosing the right processor is very important for medial marijuana merchant accounts to make sure you get the service you need should financial or legal difficulties arise. A quality processor should be accredited by the Better Business Bureau. This shows that they have experience handling your type of account and have been successful in doing so. 


As a medical marijuana dispensary you’ll need to find a processor with expertise in your area of business.  Ask colleagues in the field about their experiences with various companies.  A credit card processor in the medical marijuana field knows what can be done and what will cause legal problems.  If things do go wrong, good customer service is very important.  Look into a company’s service reputation.


Investing the right amount of time to research into your own industry and pairing with a high risk merchant account provider such as Painless Processing will pay off in dividends for your dispensary and for your customers.


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