Arizona’s medical marijuana businesses will have the ability to use a digital currency system instead of cash. Dispensaries and other marijuana businesses will be able to convert cash to digital tokens offered by Alta. The tokens can be used to pay ancillary services and suppliers who also accept the digital currency.
Alta will have a 2-year trial period with Arizona marijuana businesses under the state’s financial “sandbox” program to prove their service works. Should they choose to remain operational thereafter they’ll have to become licensed by the state.
“We’d like to see a solution to this cash management problem,” said Tim Sultan of the Arizona Dispensaries Association. “There’s just too much cash in the industry because banks can’t do business with us. We have dispensary owners paying their employees with cash, paying their vendors, paying their electric bills, going to APS with thousands of dollars, paying their taxes with tens of thousands of dollars cash, and just feeling really nervous walking up there with a bag full of cash.”
Alta’s service is for business-to-business transactions only. Arizona medical marijuana patients cannot use the digital payment service to purchase products from dispensaries.
Dispensaries would be provided with an armored car service to pick up their cash. Once the cash is counted, it will be converted to the digital token currency (one dollar equals one token).
Sarah Wessel of Alta said, “They can pay whoever they’re paying cash now on our system.”
AP Photo/John Locher