When I first saw the image of Dennis Rodman walking through a North Korean hallway wearing a PotCoin shirt, I just laughed.
It was a pretty slick move for PotCoin, though, as far as getting the name out there. Particularly in terms of reaching folks who are unfamiliar with digital currencies and the cannabis market. Although what I really find interesting is that there’s actually more than one digital currency catering to the legal cannabis market. In addition to PotCoin, there’s also WeedCoin and CannabisCoin.
The suggested benefit of cannabis-centric digital currencies – in theory – is that they allow folks to anonymously buy or sell cannabis without cash. Since the feds have made it impossible for dispensaries to accept credit cards, the cannabis business is an all-cash business. Digital currencies offer an alternative. But I don’t see much promise in this alternative.
Legitimate and Respected
My first issue with cannabis-centric digital currencies is that they’re intended to be used as a way to bypass the hassle of using cash when you go to a dispensary. As much as I love digital currency, it’s still not a widely acceptable form of payment. This will change, but I suspect this change will come at a snail’s pace. And let’s face it, as much of a hassle it may be to use cash, it’s even more of a hassle – right now, anyway, to use a digital currency. Even bitcoin, which is arguably the most popular form of digital currency is not something I see most dispensaries jumping on in an effort to provide a payment alternative for their customers.
My second issue with this is more philosophical …
I resent the idea that we, as cannabis legalization advocates and consumers, have to seek unconventional payment methods if we don’t want to use cash. And I’m not the only one who feels this way.
The truth is, the cannabis industry is seeking to become legitimate and respected. But it’s quite hard to become legitimate and respected if you have to resort to a form of currency that isn’t considered legitimate or respected by the masses.
I suspect the digital currency industry also feels the same way. I can’t imagine any major digital currency player preferring dispensaries over Amazon or Walmart.
Digital currencies and legal cannabis are the equivalent of unloved stepchildren. They’re simply not seen as legitimate industries by the status quo. So why would the cannabis industry seek out a form of payment that’s not seen as legitimate? How would that add “legitimacy” to the industry?
Understand, I don’t write these words because I find digital currencies illegitimate. In fact, I find the whole concept of digital currencies incredibly exciting as the potential for disruption could lead to the democratization of capital. But we’re not there yet. And attempting to use digital currencies as a common form of payment in the legal cannabis industry is unlikely to amount to much.
It should also be noted that in less than five years, the feds are going to relent and folks will finally be able to buy their edibles, oils, and flower with their credit cards. Hell, they’ll actually be earning points towards their next vacations every single time they buy a pre-roll.
Even if these cannabis-centric digital currencies did somehow gain some momentum, it would quickly be extinguished once your corner dispensary started accepting Visa and Mastercard.
Some folks have suggested that we need to seek out these alternative forms of payment in an effort to sidestep the feds. But I say, screw that.
We need to stop accepting this ridiculous notion that purveyors of cannabis are undeserving of the basic freedom to do business in the same manner as any other business. We need to focus on getting the feds out of the way so the industry can continue to prosper and flourish, instead of finding a “backdoor” way to pay for our weed.
I don’t want to use a digital currency to buy my weed. I don’t even want to use cash. It’s a pain in the ass. I want to swipe my card, grab my dessert, and be on my way. Accepting anything less suggests that we are not worthy of fair treatment. And that is a suggestion I am unwilling to accept.