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Cash is king when it comes to pot. Credit card companies don't make the distinction between those who want to buy marijuana for medical reasons and those who buy it for recreational purposes.
"Most merchant services companies do not want to accept credit card transactions from cannabis businesses," says Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a non-profit trade organization for licensed cannabis businesses.
Federal law still bans the sale of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, even though 29 states and Washington, D.C., , and eight states and Washington, D.C., have OK'd recreational marijuana purchases.
Discover and American Express confirmed they don't allow cardholders to buy medical or recreational marijuana. Visa did not respond to requests for comment.
Mastercard pleads the Fifth, acknowledging the legality isn't clear-cut.
"The federal government considers marijuana sales illegal, but is currently not challenging state laws that legalize marijuana sales," says Seth Eisen, a company spokesman. "Given this complexity, we continue to monitor the situation, seek guidance from regulators and inform merchant acquirers of any new developments."
Many banks won't extend basic banking services to marijuana dispensaries, meaning checks can't be used for payment either.