Marijuana, the wonder plant as some call it is going through a liberation phase in the United States. In 37 out of 50 states have relaxed the laws regarding the sale and use of marijuana and its derivatives in the past few years. Most of these states approve of the medical use of marijuana while a handful also makes an exception for recreational use. But these relaxations come with riders to make it difficult for businesses dealing with cannabis.
According to reports, Senators Steve Conway and Ann Rivers have filed a new bill in the Washington State Senate to prevent local cannabis businesses from using Bitcoin as a mode of payment. An excerpt from the bill was quoted on one of the online publication saying,
“A marijuana producer, marijuana processor, or retail outlet must not pay with or accept virtual currency for the purchase or sale of marijuana or any marijuana product.”
There have been multiple reports in the past stating the unwillingness of mainstream banking and financial institutions when it comes to providing services to marijuana businesses. In the absence of proper access to financial services, the marijuana industry has started depending heavily on Bitcoin as an alternative. Many dispensaries have been accepting cryptocurrencies since 2014. If the bill gets passed in the Senate, these businesses will be in trouble as they will have no other alternative but to handle significant amounts of cash on a daily basis. It will also turn these businesses into potential targets for thieves.
The current issue is mainly due to the difference of opinion between the state and federal governments regarding the legality of marijuana. Unlike state laws, possession, sale, and use of marijuana remain a federal offence.
There are speculations in the press about an upcoming legal battle between cannabis businesses and the government in the event of the bill being passed, targeting a particular industry with unjustifiable restrictions.