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Why Marijuana Dispensaries Near You Can't Take Credit Cards

April 18, 2022
Rachel Ludwig

As long as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, banks will refuse to allow dispensaries to accept credit card transactions as a payment option. Even though consumers are constantly asking, what dispensaries accept credit cards near me? It’s not the dispensary’s fault, credit cards are backed by banks that are federally regulated. 

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), has passed the US House of Representatives, but the current banking issues will likely remain unchanged until federal reforms are actually signed into law.

Currently dispensaries rely on cash payments, but it’s not safe for budtenders to handle large amounts of cash. It’s also not a seamless experience for the customer. That’s why Aeropay, which processes compliant cannabis payments via ACH, is part of the solution. 

Dispensaries use a common loophole to accept debit cards –for now

Maybe you’ve heard some dispensaries accept debit cards, or you might have even used yours while buying cannabis. These payments are known as “cashless ATM” purchases and are not an ideal experience. If you were to take a closer look at your receipt, you’ll notice it’s missing the name of the dispensary. This is called “masking,” and it prevents banks from recognizing a cannabis transaction in your bank account. This method ultimately costs you more money — you will have to pay standard ATM fees, and by using this tactic the budtenders have to round the price up to a whole number. 

Recently, the largest payment networks, such as VISA, have started to take notice of “cashless ATM” charges, and may soon take serious disciplinary measures against cannabis retailers that continue violating their internal policies resulting in illegal activity and high risk. 

Buying with cash isn’t the next best option

When a dispensary can’t accept credit cards, they have to resort to taking cash. But cash isn’t the most secure payment for dispensaries. This begs the question, what do dispensaries do with their money? Retailers have to regularly transport large amounts of cash to a bank that is willing to work with them –which is both expensive and risky, especially considering the recent spike in dispensary burglaries

Also, as a customer, it’s an easier shopping experience for dispensaries to accept credit cards. Why not have the same shopping experience as you do in other storefronts?

Solution: seamless and compliant bank-to-bank transfer payments

You may wonder, will there ever be dispensaries that accept credit cards near me? This option may not be on the table for now, but customers can currently avoid cards and payment processors altogether by using Aeropay’s digital bank-to-bank (ACH) transfers to pay for their favorite products. Not only are these payments fully compliant with federal laws, but they are also backed by secure financial institutions. Aeropay partners with Safe Harbor, the leading compliance-based banking program for cannabis businesses and an affiliate of Partner Colorado Credit Union. 

Colorado has been a key market in the cannabis payments revolution. While there aren’t any dispensaries in Denver that accept credit cards yet, this may soon be a reality with the support of more lawmakers and financial institutions. Aeropay is working closely with state regulators to focus on doing it by the book — which ultimately helps make bank transfer payments more available for customers. 

Bank-to-bank (ACH) transfers also provide you with a sense of security in the cannabis industry since Aeropay monitors dispensaries to prevent practices such as fraud and money laundering. Through these safeguards, Aeropay provides a framework that benefits both the dispensary and the customer by creating a seamless shopping experience.


Rachel Ludwig

Digital Marketing Manager
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