Credit Cards: Obama Admin’s Newest Front in the War on Medical Marijuana?
In what could potentially be the newest front in the Obama administration’s multiple front war on medical marijuana, major credit card companies will no longer accept transactions from medical marijuana dispensaries, according to SF Weekly.
Merchant services providers – the intermediaries between retailers and credit card companies who process customers’ payments — began informing their medical marijuana dealing clients that cannabis credit card transactions would not be processed after July 1, according to Stephen DeAngelo, Executive Director of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center.
No government agency is taking credit for making marijuana a cash-only business. But the “factual pattern” is as follows, DeAngelo said: Officials from the Treasury Department flexed on credit card companies, who then informed merchant services providers that they’d be “dropped from Visa and MasterCard forever” unless they stopped processing medical marijuana payments.
We will need to wait to find out the motivations behind this move. It is possible the decision was not related to threats from federal agencies. But most likely it is the product of the federal government’s continuing efforts to put pressure on finance companies to not work with medical marijuana businesses. Finance companies almost never decide voluntarily to restrict customers and make less money. Medical marijuana dispensaries have a tough time finding banks and financial service companies to use because of threats from US Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole that doing so could put the banks “in violation of federal money laundering statutes.”
There has, after all, been a pattern of multiple federal agencies all working to restrict, harass and impede state medical marijuana programs since President Obama took office. The IRS is going after Harborside based on an obscure tax provision that would now allow them to qualify for standard business deductions. The ATF is telling medical marijuana patients they can’t buy guns. In some places even newspapers and radio stations are being threatened by the federal government for taking ads from dispensaries.