There may be no greater sign of marijuana's rising profile in the national economy than this: a company has announced medical marijuana will soon have its own pre-paid debit card.
To begin with, the card may only be used in medical marijuana dispensaries in California and Colorado, explained Commerce Online, a merchant processing company that is launching the card, but the company expects to expand its range.
"Fourteen states presently allow some use of marijuana for medical purposes: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. California is unique among those for the widespread presence of dispensaries-businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. Colorado also has several dispensaries, and Rhode Island and New Mexico are in the process of licensing providers," according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that promotes the decriminalization of marijuana use.
"Being an established player within the merchant services sector and aligning ourselves with the strongest banking and technology partners within the space, we believe Commerce Online is uniquely positioned to offer the most reliable pre-paid debit and identification card to the medical marijuana industry, and roll out our pilot program immediately. Presently, most of these operations only accept cash, as well as pay cash to suppliers to the collectives, subjecting operators and collective members to theft, unregulated and potential criminal activity. There is no doubt that with new legislation for the operation of these facilities and potential legalization in select states, there will be tighter safeguards put into place by federal, state and local governments," said Kyle Gotshalk, CEO of Commerce Online.
The company declined to reveal what the card would be called or whether it will carry a Visa or MasterCard logo.