Cannabis companies are turning to the world’s most popular digital currency in an effort to get rid of all that cash.
The inability to access traditional financial institutions is one of the marijuana industry’s biggest impediments. Legal cannabis was a $6 billion industry last year and is expected to grow to $50 billion by 2026, according to Cowen & Co. But because pot is illegal under federal law, big banks and credit-card companies steer clear. That’s forced most merchants to accept cash only, a logistical headache and constant security threat.
While the early Bitcoin adopters are claiming success, the currency still has a long way to go before it gains wide acceptance. For many in the legal weed industry, the virtual currency’s association with illicit drug dealing on the so-called dark web is a big drawback.
Others have a hard time grasping how a virtual currency works, including Neil Demers, who runs a cannabis store in Denver. At least for now.
“I’m sure education could enlighten me and a lot of this industry on bitcoin being a feasible payment option, but we just don’t see it,” said Demers, a franchisee of Frost Denver Dispensary Worldwide Inc., which leases space to pot dispensaries.