Cannabis Payments Guide: The Complete 2024 Resource for Dispensaries

In the evolving landscape of the 2024 US cannabis industry, dispensaries are increasingly seeking efficient payment solutions. Understanding the payment options available for dispensaries, along with any risks and benefits, is essential for cannabis businesses to thrive.

2024 cannabis industry payment options

Different cannabis merchant services offer different options for dispensary payments. Each has different risks and benefits, but that’s not only dependent on the payment type, but the marijuana payment processor as well.


While cash is a staple in many cannabis dispensaries, it presents challenges such as security risks and accounting complexities. Digital payment alternatives are growing in popularity to address these issues.


Debit cards are a preferred payment method in cannabis retail. They offer a straightforward payment solution that integrates easily with most POS systems, enhancing the customer experience.

Debit transactions add an extra layer of security, as customers must enter their PIN at the point of sale, significantly reducing the risk of chargebacks.

There are a few types of debit card payments in cannabis.

1. Remote Dispensing Unit (RDU)

RDUs offer dispensary debit card processing by completing a full ATM transaction where cash is dispensed in a secure vault. Then, the funds are reconciled and batched over to merchants via ACH.

RDUs are compliant with cannabis because they do not miscode transactions.

2. Point of Banking (Cashless ATMs)

Point of Banking systems or cashless ATMs allow customers to use their debit cards at dispensaries, functioning like an ATM transaction but directly at the POS, streamlining the payment process.

3. PIN debit

With PIN debit, you can only pay with the money you have available in your account. It's an instant charge and covers payment to the exact penny.

Credit card processing

Credit card payments are complex in the cannabis industry due to federal law restrictions. Some cannabis businesses find workarounds through high-risk merchant accounts, albeit with higher processing fees and stringent compliance requirements. Others use a solution like Paylabs, which offers compliant, safe, and affordable credit card processing solutions.

ACH payments

ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments are an efficient electronic payment option for larger transactions, increasingly used by cannabis retailers for both in-store and ecommerce platforms.


Cryptocurrencies offer an innovative payment processing solution, especially appealing for cannabis companies looking to bypass traditional banking solutions. They provide a level of anonymity and can help in avoiding complications with mainstream financial institutions.

Gift cards

Gift cards are an effective way to encourage repeat business and can be easily integrated into cannabis payment systems, offering a cash alternative and enhancing the overall customer experience.

What’s the best cannabis payment option for dispensaries?

Dispensaries should offer a variety of payment options to ensure they meet the diverse needs of their customers and build redundancy in their practices. This includes debit payment, credit card payments, ACH payments, and even digital payment methods like cryptocurrency. A multi-faceted approach helps in catering to a wider customer base and streamlines the checkout process. It also protects your business should an option get shutdown.

The importance of non-cash payment options in cannabis

Cash management poses risks such as theft and money laundering. Adopting electronic payment solutions like debit card processing, ACH, and credit card processing can mitigate these risks. These payment methods speed up transactions, allow for easier record-keeping, and can be integrated with ecommerce systems for online sales of cannabis products.

The impact of legalization on cannabis payment processing

The potential federal legalization of cannabis could revolutionize cannabis banking, making it easier for cannabis retailers to access traditional financial services. However, dispensaries must remain vigilant, as legalization does not automatically simplify credit card processing due to ongoing federal regulations.

The future of cannabis payments

Cannabis payment processing is undergoing significant changes. The introduction of legislation like the SAFE Banking Act could provide more banking solutions for cannabis companies. Dispensaries must stay informed and adaptable, working with cannabis payment processors that offer comprehensive payment processing solutions.

How to choose a cannabis payment processor

Follow these steps before making a decision on your chosen cannabis payment partner:

Step 1: Choose a cannabis payment provider that specializes in cannabis credit card processing and other cannabis payment solutions. You don’t want to work with a partner that’s unclear on the many nuances related to cannabis regulations and laws.

Step 2: Make sure they're compliant with stater laws and federal regulations: Ensure the payment processor is up-to-date with the latest in cannabis banking and federal laws. Choose a cannabis-specific payment processor1

Step 3: Evaluate the pricing and fee structure: Understand all pricing details, including transaction fees and monthly charges associated with your merchant account. Some services charge a percentage of each transaction, while others charge a flat fee per transaction.

Step 4: Onboard your chosen cannabis payment processor and start transacting!

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Frequently asked cannabis payment questions 

Implementing versatile POS systems that handle multiple payment options like debit payments, ACH, and digital payments can streamline the checkout process and improve customer experience.

Mobile payments are becoming more popular in the cannabis industry, offering convenient and quick transaction methods, although they must align with state laws and federal guidelines.

Cash transactions increase the risks of theft and money laundering. They also complicate accounting and can slow down the transaction process.

It's challenging for cannabis businesses to access traditional banking solutions due to federal regulations. However, some financial institutions offer banking services to cannabis companies under strict compliance frameworks.

The SAFE Banking Act, if passed, could significantly ease the challenges of cannabis banking, allowing more financial institutions to legally serve cannabis businesses.

High-risk merchant accounts for cannabis credit card processing require careful management due to higher fees, strict compliance regulations, and increased scrutiny from providers.

Look for expertise in cannabis payment solutions, compliance with cannabis banking regulations, competitive pricing, robust security measures, and responsive customer service.

Yes, there are POS systems specifically tailored for cannabis dispensaries, offering features like inventory tracking, compliance management, and integration with various payment methods.

Cannabis companies must navigate federal government regulations by partnering with payment processors that specialize in cannabis and are adept at managing the complexities of cannabis transactions.

Get simple, secure cannabis payments with Paylabs

Cannabis customers spend an average of 30% more using Paylabs payment services like debit and credit processing. Our solutions are safe, effective, and compliant for the cannabis industry.

Request your free consultation today.

Disclaimer: Paylabs is not in any manner providing legal services or legal advice. You are solely responsible for consulting with legal counsel to ensure your business complies with all applicable laws, and we recommend you do so.

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