Columbia Care Inc. has developed a possible solution to cash-only payments in the cannabis industry. The Columbia National Credit program (CNC card) will soon allow consumers to purchase cannabis products without cash at dispensaries in multiple states.
The card could serve as a workaround for federal laws that have made major banks wary of doing business with the cannabis industry. Lack of access to banking is considered one of the most significant issues facing the cannabis industry. Operating as cash-only can reduce financial transparency and places a target on dispensaries by criminals who know that both cannabis and cash are housed under one roof.
Columbia Care already has launched a successful pilot program for the CNC card in New York. The program’s expansion first will include Delaware and Pennsylvania and then Illinois and Arizona later this month. Columbia Care plans on offering the CNC card to all of its U.S. locations by the end of the year.
As most businesses in the U.S. offer alternative forms of payment, cash-only options are becoming a bit of an exception outside of the cannabis industry.
“If given the choice to pay with credit or cash, consumers prefer credit, and until now, the cannabis industry has been predominantly cash-based due to restrictions on the use of credit cards for cannabis purchases,” Nicholas Vita, chief executive officer at Columbia Care, said in a statement. “Through our exclusive network of partners and painstaking attention to detail, we successfully navigated the complexities of the financial industry unique to cannabis and are proud to once again lead the way as the first company to solve this fundamental issue.”
Credit cards do more than just offer a convenient way to pay for cannabis products. According to Columbia Care, cannabis patients in New York spent an average of 18 percent more on each dispensary visit when given the option to pay with the CNC card.
“We are encouraged by the overall results of our pilot program and the impact it has had on our home delivery customers, who are often unable to visit our dispensaries for a variety of reasons,” Vita said. “Based on our success in New York, one of the most demanding retail markets in the world, we are confident that the CNC Card has the potential to be a significant value add for the company and for all of our customers who look to us for reliable and convenient high-quality health and wellness options.”