Hawai‘i Boasts Nation’s First Cash-Free Cannabis Banking Solution
Governor David Ige held a press conference today during which he announced a banking breakthrough for Hawaiʻi’s medical cannabis dispensaries. Gov. Ige announced the nation’s first and only cash-free payment system for medical cannabis.
In making the announcement, Gov. Ige said the state has been looking into innovative solutions because, “dispensaries accumulate a lot of cash which creates challenges for state employees who have to interact with dispensaries as well as the general public.”
Since cannabis is illegal at the federal level, Gov. Ige said nearly all financial institutions in Hawaiʻi have decided against providing banking services to the dispensary industry here.
“This means that Hawaiʻi’s dispensaries have been cash-only operations, and there are a number of issues with this, including public safety, challenges for the business and consumers, the collection and payment of taxes, employee payroll [and] other taxes that are owed to the state,” said Gov. Ige.
Under the system, partner Colorado Credit Union has stepped up to offer its Safe Harbor Services banking program to state-licensed dispensaries in Hawaiʻi. Hawaiʻi’s Commissioner of Financial Institutions, Iris Ikeda, has been working to provide them with the approvals to do business in Hawaiʻi.
“This cash-free solution makes sense. It makes dispensaries’ finances transparent, and it makes it easier for the patients who are being served,” said Gov. Ige. “It enables us to continue the focus on patient public and product safety, while allowing transactions to take place.”
State officials say the department sought a cashless solution to address concerns about increased crimes committed against cash-based operations.
Safe Harbor offers a fully compliant banking program, according to industry stakeholders. Representatives with Maui Grown Therapies say the Maui dispensary is joining other dispensaries in bringing the banking solution to the industry.
“We are currently researching a number of cashless purchase options for our patients,” dispensary representatives said today, noting that the cashless transactions will help to enhance peace of mind for staff, patients and the public.
State officials say their target date for implementing the cashless system is October 1, 2017. Purchases at retail dispensaries would occur through the mobile application and other transactions would be recorded by the financial institution.
Maui Wellness Group, LLC dba Maui Grown Therapies and Aloha Green LLC, the state’s two operational dispensaries, have opened accounts with the mainland credit union and have begun using the mobile debit payment application. The remaining six dispensaries are now at different stages of development and varying stages of the approval process. Further details from the Maui dispensary will be announced at a later date.
Dispensary hours at Maui Grown Therapies is under continued adjustment based on product availability due to lab testing delays. Sales are currently by appointment only.