You Can't Use a Mastercard PIN Debit Card to Buy Cannabis Anymore

Mark Hake
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Mastercard recently sent out cease and desist letters to payment processors and banks to stop allowing marijuana to be bought using Mastercard debit cards that require PINS.

Some dispensaries had been able to see cannabis purchased with PIN-based debit cards, as this was seen as akin to a cash transaction.

Up until now, using a debit card without a PIN makes it akin to a credit transaction, which is not allowed for cannabis transactions.

But now Mastercard has made it very clear that no PIN-based debit card transactions can be completed for cannabis. This likely applies to PIN-based debit card gift cards as well.

This news was widely distributed last week, but not many noted that it actually involved just debit cards and specifically debit cards that require PIN codes to be used.

Bloomberg News quoted a Mastercard spokesperson that "As we were made aware of this matter, we quickly investigated it.”

“In accordance with our policies, we instructed the financial institutions that offer payment services to cannabis merchants and connect them to Mastercard to terminate the activity.”

"The federal government considers cannabis sales illegal, so these purchases are not allowed on our systems," the spokesperson added.

Credit Cards Not Allowed Either

Moreover, credit cards cannot be used to buy cannabis anywhere, as VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and other major cards prohibit it. They are waiting until Federal law allows marijuana to be legal to be bought before credit cards can be used to buy cannabis at dispensaries.

Cannabis companies and dispensaries were critical of this move by Mastercard.

Reuters quoted Sunburn Cannabis CEO Brady Cobb who said in a statement, "this move is another blow to the state-legal cannabis industry and patients/consumers who want to access this budding category."

The bottom line is that you can no longer use debit cards as PIN-based transactions to buy cannabis in dispensaries in the U.S. - at least until the Federal government changes its mind on cannabis regulation.


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Mark R. Hake, CFA, writes articles on national and local news, stocks, and market events at,,, and as well as TalkMarkets.

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Mark Hake is a financial analyst, investor, and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). He writes about US and foreign stocks as well as cryptos, hedge funds, and private equity. He previously ran his own hedge fund, investment research firm, and acted as CFO for a fintech startup. He focuses on finding value, arbitrage, and hidden asset opportunities.

Phoenix, AZ

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