The Unique Challenges Facing Medical Marijuana Sellers and Users
Like any other business, the owners of medical marijuana dispensaries face many challenges getting their businesses off the ground. Unlike more traditional establishments, these entrepreneurs often deal with greater difficulties getting needed business services and handling negative public opinion.
In the ultimate case of NIMBY – not in my back yard – purveyors of medical marijuana dispensaries find it difficult to get leases in more affluent areas and find themselves relegated to less desirable locations, increasing their likelihood of facing break-ins and robberies. People want medical marijuana to be available to card carrying patients, but they don’t want to have the stores in their neighborhoods.
Break-Ins Can Occur Anywhere
In two recent incidents the motivation remained the same – obtaining marijuana. A dispensary in Colorado Springs has had its dumpster stolen several times in recent days. Thieves used bolt cutters to open the trash receptacle hoping to find marijuana debris. Trash has been left on neighboring trails and in parks.
In Langley, BC a man who grew medical marijuana legally at his home opened his door to help two men claiming to have car trouble. They pushed him into his home, brandished a knife and gun, tied him up and blindfolded him, and then proceeded to rob the home and cut down his marijuana plants. They left, stealing both his vehicles.
Legitimate Business Services Would Help Entrepreneurs
While there isn’t much that banks or merchant account providers could do for domestic growers, for dispensaries, obtaining the same scale of business services available to other companies would help reduce the attraction of such storefronts to burglars and petty thieves. Aside from the attraction of marijuana on the premises, it is often the availability of so much untraceable cash that makes MMJ dispensaries so appealing.
Owners have found that when they are able to process transactions by credit card, clients prefer to pay that way. With little cash on hand, vulnerability of a location decreases dramatically.
The problems behind getting such services lay in the fact that while some state governments have legalized the sale of medical marijuana to card carrying individuals, the federal government hasn’t accepted marijuana as a state issue. On the federal level pot remains illegal, and banks are dependent upon the FDIC to insure their account holders, and are required to follow numerous federal regulations.
What Does the Future Hold?
There is really no way to anticipate how the fight to fully legalize marijuana will go. Some cities which already approved the sale of MMJ are trying to backtrack; others are striving to improve service and availability. The best example of such a situation historically is the re-legalization of alcohol after prohibition. Crimes surrounding the sale decreased dramatically.
Considering the potential tax base, it isn’t hard to see why both the federal and state governments would be interested in completely legalizing MMJ. For business owners, that would signal the availability of all needed business services, a very welcome change.
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