Cannabis Sales Growing, Entrepreneurs Looking for Solution to Banking Issue

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An employee at a cannabis retail outlet works with bags of cannabis delivered by the courier service CannaRabbit LLC in Louisville, Colorado. When Lamine Zarrad was not at his occupation as a federal banking regulator in the last few weeks, he was working with Denver’s cannabis dispensaries for a majority of his time.

Since he works for the federal government, Zarrad is not allowed to associate himself with cannabis. Instead, he was there to persuade the dispensaries on a new entrepreneurial idea he had been developing in his free time and actually implementing this week once he quits his job as a banking regulator “at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a division of the Treasury Department.”

Zarrad’s idea, Tokken, is one of the many companies trying to innovate in the cannabis industry to solve issues that annoy both consumers and providers. This does not just include Colorado, but other states as well. That issue is the hard to follow and dirty money coming in.

Colorado legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2014, joining various other states that had already decided to decriminalize the drug in some way. However, Visa and MasterCard will not accept transactions at cannabis dispensaries, and a majority of banks are not accepting money from these businesses. As a result, retail outlets are forced to deal with a large bunch of money with nowhere to store it.

Tokken as well as other companies, including Hypur and Kind Financial, have begun to put together software that allows both banks and dispensaries to record transactions. The goal would be to allow for transactions to occur without cash in the end. According to Stephanie Hopper, the owner of Ballpark Holistic Dispensary in Denver, the solutions need to come sooner.

“We are all kind of chomping at the bit, trying to figure out what to do,” Ms. Hopper stated. “We’re fighting so hard on so many fronts that taking one thing off of us would be such a relief.”

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