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Can You Buy Weed With A Credit Card?

Levi Roberts

by Levi Roberts

June 13, 2024 08:00 am ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
Fact checked by Emily Mullins
Can You Buy Weed With A Credit Card?

Have you ever gone to a dispensary and been given cash back after paying with your card? Weird, right? Well, it’s not the dispensary’s fault.

We’re in an interesting spot right now, with federal laws and state laws clashing against each other–and one of the results of that clash is that buying weed with a credit card is a complicated subject.

Cannabis dispensaries are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to processing payments. The major payment networks won’t allow cannabis sales through their networks because the plant is still federally illegal, so dispensaries need to find loopholes and workarounds.

Fortunately, they have. Read on as we explore the various alternatives to traditional credit card payments.

Can You Buy Weed With a Credit Card?

Whether or not you can buy weed with a credit card depends on the dispensary and their payment processing system.

If your dispensary uses one of the four major payment networks, you can’t use a credit card. However, credit cards are an option if the dispensary uses third-party payment networks. They may also offer credit cards that are specifically for cannabis, or a dispensary-dependent credit card.

Payment Networks

Every time you use a credit card, it’s processed through a payment network. The most popular of these includes:

  • American Express
  • Discover
  • Mastercard
  • Visa

The payment network alerts your bank of the purchase, which then charges you.

According to The Denver Post, a policy expert named Mason Tvert explained that payment networks are worried about getting clocked for “anti-money laundering laws” by the federal government. 

While being a pain for consumers, this fact also squashes potential loans and credit lines for up-and-coming cannabis brands- which no doubt helps sustain the racial disparities in the cannabis industry.

Workarounds 

The majority of cannabis sales still have to be cash or debit. However, dispensaries can use other payment processors, cannabis credit cards, and cashless ATMs to skirt the rules.

Other Payment Processors

Payment processors besides the main four sometimes allow cannabis sales. Dispensaries opt for third-party payment processors whenever possible so that customers can pay with credit cards like they’re used to.

Unfortunately, third-party payment processors often have higher fees, which costs dispensaries extra money along with being one of the main reasons that not all dispensaries offer this option.

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Veriheal has satisfied millions of patients nationwide by giving them access to these benefits

  • Larger purchase limits
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Credit Cards for Cannabis

Some credit card companies have seen the gap in the market and stepped up, like SuperNet. SuperNet works with dispensaries and lets them use their cards and payment network.

On the other hand, some dispensaries offer dispensary-specific credit cards. Not every dispensary has these, but you can ask your local dispensary if this is an option to find out more. 

Cashless ATMs

What’s a cashless ATM? The Denver Post explains:

“The small, handheld terminal circumvents the need for buyers to withdraw cash to hand the seller, but transactions are different from traditional debit purchases because they don’t charge the exact basket amount. A cashless ATM rounds up to the nearest five dollars and customers normally get some change back.”

Cashless ATMs are one of the most popular ways to pay at dispensaries.

Evolution of the Law

Colorado passed a bill in 2023 that lets dispensaries accept payments online. Before this, customers were able to put together shopping carts of products but had to pay in person upon pickup.

During the height of the pandemic, an emergency order was passed to allow online payments to keep things contactless. However, when the pandemic was declared “officially over,” the order was reversed.

With the DEA planning to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III, new possibilities may arise–although it seems unlikely. A brief put out by the Congressional Research Service states:

“Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III would allow marijuana businesses to deduct business expenses on federal tax filings. Other collateral legal consequences would continue to attach to unauthorized marijuana-related activities.”

For now, it seems that buying cannabis with credit cards will count as an “unauthorized” activity, but we’ll just have to wait and see if this changes post-rescheduling. 

Final Thoughts

To summarize, the answer to “Can you buy weed with a credit card?” is sometimes. It depends on the system the dispensary is using–third-party processing, cannabis credit cards, or cashless ATMs.

Federal and state laws are butting heads, and one of the strange results is that credit cards are a contested subject.

Hopefully, the federal government will catch up with the public’s embrace of cannabis and move from rescheduling to descheduling, allowing cannabis to be sold like any other legal substance. With the hard work of cannabis advocates, this day will come–it’s just a matter of when.

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