The legalization of cannabis continues to sweep across America, with only 14 states left to jump on board. 36 of our 50 states, plus Washington D.C. and four U.S. territories, have legalized the use of cannabis for either recreational or medical purposes.
Recently, we’ve seen many advances in the beneficial uses of cannabis as a medicine. One might think it would be easy for practicing physicians of those states to prescribe it to their patients. But, unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case.
Despite this sweeping legalization, so many challenges continue to plague the industry. One of the most disconcerting is how difficult it is to acquire banking and payment solutions for medical marijuana doctors.
Banking, payment solutions, and other business services remain elusive for cannabis related businesses.
Cannabis is still listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. And as a schedule 1 drug, physicians are unable to “prescribe” marijuana, they are only able to “recommend” it. Obviously, medical marijuana doctors do not directly sell cannabis. But as far as banks and payment processors are concerned, they are a marijuana related business (MRB).
Marijuana related businesses are businesses that provide ancillary services to the cannabis industry. Because of this, they are unfairly viewed as being involved in the cannabis industry. Banks view MRBs as businesses that promote an illegal substance. And any payments received from the “promotion” of an illegal substance would be considered illegal money laundering. Even though MRBs are not directly selling the product.
Being an MRB creates liabilities that affect both the business and the financial institutions that would serve them.
Serving Marijuana related businesses increases liability for financial institutions and payment railways.
In order for a bank to offer a bank account to an individual or a business, monetary deposits must be FDIC insured. But it is illegal for the FDIC to insure any money that is derived from an illegal source. This makes the federally backed banks leery of working with businesses that “deal with or promote the use of an illegal substance”. Even though medical marijuana doctors do not sell MMJ, they are promoting it.
For a bank, offering services to MRBs means dealing with some pretty complex compliance regulations. Federal banking laws already pose a significant set of challenges for banks. But for any bank willing to provide service to MRBs, federal marijuana laws add a greater set of compliance challenges the bank will also need to navigate. Not to mention the extra documentation, liability, staffing, and potential brand damage that comes with it.
Most federally backed banks are not willing to invest the funds, time and extra manpower to make sure their compliance is spot on.
The disparity between federal and state marijuana laws creates roadblocks for medical marijuana doctors.
Regulatory disparity between state and local governments and the Federal Government put doctors in a difficult spot.
Many MRBs have found challenges when it comes to getting banking and a merchant account to accept payments for a cannabis related business. And doctor’s offices are no different.
Physician’s offices have a difficult time simply finding a bank that will allow them to open a business bank account. Let alone find a merchant service provider (MSP) who will grant a cannabis related business a merchant account enabling them to accept credit cards as a form of payment.
This banking conundrum makes it very difficult for physicians to operate and enjoy the same financial services a traditional business enjoys.
Without a bank account, a physician’s office is unable to write checks. They can’t order supplies and make online payments, or even deposit cash payments from their patients. But banking issues aren’t the only challenges. The major players in the credit card industry, MasterCard and Visa, and the card issuing banks have refused to allow any transactions involving cannabis. Because of this, accepting payments has become a huge hurdle for offices who’ve chosen to enter the world of medicinal marijuana treatment.
This is a very frustrating conundrum for physicians working diligently to navigate a fairly new and ever-changing medical landscape.
Patients need a medical doctor educated in traditional medicine as well as alternative treatments to pharmaceuticals to advise them on all their options.
And those doctors need the support of financial systems to provide the traditional business services they need to be successful.
Medical marijuana doctors deserve access to reliable banking and merchant services to make and accept payments.
Physicians should be able to treat their patients in whatever manner they feel is the most effective. Even if that method involves the use of marijuana.
Medical marijuana doctors are, in many ways, the shepherds of the flock, so to speak. They are compassionate doctors who provide care and support for their patients. But they also work to help eliminate the negative stigma associated with using cannabis for medicinal purposes.
They are the ones governing the program to make sure it is not being abused. Medical doctors that care about the efficacy of the system, follow the rules and regulations, and help keep others in the field doing the same, ensure that medical marijuana programs succeed.
Business such as this should not be plagued with obstacles that make it difficult to provide such support. As doctors who make the commitment to go out on that limb, what you really need is to know that there is support out there for you. You need support from businesses that believe in what you are trying to accomplish. But they need to be businesses that possess the expertise to provide MRBs a reliable high risk merchant account.
Only then will you have compliant payment solutions that allow you to navigate a complicated legal system as we all wait for the world to catch up.
Bankcard International Group provides medical marijuana doctor merchant accounts
While serving marijuana related businesses is a challenging endeavor, it is not impossible.
At Bankcard International Group, we absolutely support physicians who choose to practice despite the challenges of the medical marijuana industry. By providing merchant services to ancillary cannabis businesses, we are also operating at the forefront of this movement. And we realize the responsibility that we have to support those physicians that put themselves on the line to care for their patients.
The best way we can support doctors is by connecting them with the services they so desperately need in order to effectively run a profitable practice. We have over 20 years of experience working with hard to place business types. Experience and tireless work with banks and regulators enabled us to create an ecosystem prepared and capable of handling the risks.
We have gone to great lengths to create progressive and unparalleled strategic partnerships with companies who specialize in high-risk business categories. We have carefully chosen solutions that are industry leaders capable of remaining at the forefront of rapidly changing technologies. And we will only work with companies determined to practice business with transparency, mutual trust, and integrity.
These partnerships enable us to provide reliable and compliant domestic banking and payment processing solutions to MRBs.
Like you, we’re passionate about the industry and dedicated to treating you and your practice with the respect and honesty it deserves.
If you’re ready for a compliant cannabis related business merchant account to accept payments in your medical marijuana business, contact us today. As the one-stop resource marijuana doctors, we look forward to supporting the industry by delivering on our mission to provide experience, quality and world-class support.