The drug war is not over. Legalization may be sweeping many places, but the implications of prohibition policy still linger over almost every part of the cannabis industry.
Where does it hit most often?
Purchases. In the United States, so far the world’s largest and most freewheeling market, this is a huge issue. Many even state-legal businesses cannot get bank accounts easily. Most marijuana purchases, even in states where recreational is legal, are done in cash, at point of purchase.
American drug policy, when it comes to domestic purchases, does not stop at American shores.
Outside of this market, as a result, financial services companies can be very, very leery about providing any sort of transaction medium for customers or even businesses in this vertical. This is an issue facing everyone who has ever tried to buy cannabis, seeds, or even in some cases, accessories in an online environment.
Credit card companies, because they are either American or influenced by American policies, are also not interested in being on the front war of this issue. Anywhere. That means that paying for your online purchase, whatever it is, is not a good solution. The companies themselves have been known to block purchases if they think it is “drug” related. Even if you are paying with a supposedly “European” credit card. And even if all you are doing is buying seeds. This is because the credit card companies all use the same financial networks that are currently overseen by American jurisdiction. Think about it. There are only three “brands” of credit card. Visa, MasterCard and American Express. They are all American, and therefore all ruled, ultimately, by American banking law on the topic. That will not change until cannabis is rescheduled in Congress. And that is going to be a long wait.
So what is the solution?
Easiest Alternative Methods
In order to ensure that customers are untroubled by the issues surround card payments in the industry, Seedsman accept a number of different payment options.
The idea of paying in bitcoins for cannabis and cannabis-related purchases, is a popular one. Many seed companies, in particular, are looking at this idea. So are legal dispensaries in places where banking services are still problematic.
This is not new. Silk Road, the now infamous online drug bazaar, established itself precisely this way. People could buy bitcoins. They could then connect with vendors (for cannabis) via the Silk Road website via TOR.
The only problem? This was illegal and authorities are now hip to the idea.
However, in situations where what you are buying falls into a grey area, this is actually a smart idea – particularly if the vendors accept bitcoins. This includes seeds of course. In the Netherlands, for example, selling cannabis seeds is perfectly legit. So is buying those seeds, no matter where you are based. If you are using legally recognized tender, problem solved.
Getting yourself set up with a bitcoin account these days, no matter where you are, is a relatively easy process.
If you are considering using a cyber currency of course, there are a few other considerations you need to ponder.
What exactly is cybercurrency?
Cyber currency is digital cash, essentially. However it is not issued by a central authority, like a bank. Rather it is “mined” or created. Where it goes, how it is then valued, spent, stored and transferred again, is another issue entirely. At this point, cybercurrency can either be treated one of two ways. It is either like cash, with an associated market or cash value. Or it is essentially like a machine tool or contract.
In its cash-like form, cybercurrency can also be traded and speculated on. That is why the “price” of bitcoins is closely tied with both the American dollar and the Chinese Yuan. Most people buy bitcoins from these currencies.
Bitcoin is the best known cybercurrency but it is not the only one.
How to open a cybercurrency account
When opening a cyber currency wallet, there are also a number of considerations you have to make. These include:
- Which cyber currency are you going to use? Honestly, unless you are a geek and know your stuff, it is safer to stick with Bitcoin. This is also what more and more cannabis merchants are accepting.
- Which wallet provider are you going to use? This is an important question. Some are more reliable if not easier to use than others. There are also multiple options available now. Do your research.
- Connecting your cyber wallet to a cash source. This could be Paypal. It could be via a regular bank. Again, this is a process you do not want to jump into.
Unless you are also willing to engage in the endless up and downs of the price of the bitcoin market, however, do not transfer more than you need on an immediate basis. You could find that speculation on the actual price of bitcoin also makes this option prohibitive except for emergency purchases. Used in this way, bitcoin is just like any other currency. And it is rife for speculation even now.
The old fashioned paper and metal kind, still works of course. It is also the best way to make truly anonymous purchases. When you can pay cash, of course, it is usually just the easiest thing to do when buying anything related to cannabis. The “legality” issue is so complicated right now that the last thing local merchants (or you the buyer) want to deal with is a blocked purchase – particularly if that purchase is legit.
YOUR BANK ACCOUNT
Right now, you absolutely cannot pay with plastic in the vast majority of pot-related transactions in the continental United States. Including seeds. That includes not just credit cards, but of course, debit cards that tie directly into your bank account.
The good news, if you can call it that? This is a regional problem, however shocking this might sound to Americans. If you are in Europe, this issue is pretty easy to solve. The SEPA bank networks are governed by a different regulatory system. You can pay for cannabis itself in any coffee shop in Amsterdam with your European bank card via the electronic networks that are already in place. You can also pay for seeds this way. Knock yourself out.
Why? All you are doing is giving your IBAN and BIC numbers to a legitimate vendor. Most of these establishments, particularly in Amsterdam, already have consumer-end swipe card tech in place. End of conversation.
Germinating those seeds is another issue of course, depending on where you live. But you already knew that of course.