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Business Opinion

Is There Any Hope For Medical Cannabis Coins? (Part 2)

Written by Marguerite Arnold

Paying for medical cannabis, in general, is still a major issue, no matter where or who you are. Why bitcoin or other digital coins are not the solution.

Read the first part: Is There Any Hope For Medical Cannabis Coins? (Part 1)

Digital Payments & Cryptocoins

Imagine for a moment an online service where legitimate patients could submit prescriptions, order online and pay for their cannabis or seeds with another kind of currency. Why can’t there be an Amazon of cannabis? After all, dispensaries can now advertise online. You can even find them via convenient dispensary maps. Why couldn’t they just accept a cryptocurrency to pay for their products?

This is actually a world that has already been conceived. In the black market, this was the idea behind the now notorious Silk Road. In the legitimizing market, however, there are several initiatives right now to try to set up a separate cyber “cannabis coin.” Or even to use Bitcoin to buy medical cannabis. However none of these solve any of the problems they have been designed to solve, particularly for patients. Beyond the banking and payment issues (and there are several), it is still illegal in many jurisdictions to send narcotics through the mail.

Could A CyberCoin Work To Pay For Medical Cannabis?

This idea has been around for a while. There is at least one professional networking group now holding its third annual conference on the issue this year. However the many problems still inherent in the whole conundrum are still present.

The first is that this idea is about to get banned completely – at least in the United States. (See pending legislation in Washington State.) On top of this, even if allowed to operate on a state level, such entities (as well as the downstream businesses like dispensaries who participate) present tempting targets in a world where federal asset forfeiture laws apply, even without an increasingly menacing Justice Department. As of June, this situation was so bad that PWC Bank even dropped the account of the Marijuana Policy Project. The group does not sell cannabis. But they do receive support from registered cannabis producers and dispensaries. The problem on the professional side mushrooms from there.

Ultimately, unless willing to operate totally in a cyber currency world, dispensaries and growers would have to convert customer payments to regular banks. And at that point, there is no guarantee that banks would accept them. The banks themselves would also be liable under asset forfeiture laws.

Without the participation of either growers or dispensaries, patients are left without a place to spend any cyber “coin” they might have purchased to solve the problem. Whatever that is. They are still left, in other words, in the same place.

Outside the United States, establishing a separate payment system for medical cannabis makes no sense. Patients can already use the banking networks. It doesn’t matter, whether cannabis is for sale in dollars, euro, shekels or Bitcoin. If it is not subsidized, in this case, by health insurance, many patients will not be able to afford it.

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About the author

Marguerite Arnold