Medical marijuana and American Express: Credit card company prohibits pot purchases

Categories: Marijuana

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Patients who've tried to charge their medical marijuana purchases to American Express recently made an unpleasant discovery: As of April 30, American Express started denying all such transactions. "American Express has made a decision not to allow card acceptance for medical marijuana," says company spokesperson Diana Postemsky. "It's our policy to adhere to federal law in such matters."

By adhering to federal law, though, American Express may have left numerous medical marijuana patients who've previously used AmEx for such purchases in the lurch -- not to mention all the medical marijuana centers and peripheral businesses that have had to deal with significant red tape just to get credit-card machines into their stores. And the fact that American Express is willing to turn its back on a rapidly growing industry could signal that it might not be the only credit-card company to start rejecting medical-marijuana buys.

While Representative Jared Polis is introducing legislation to help banks feel confident that they can do business with medical marijuana operations without fear of federal reprisals, there's no guarantee that measure will make American Express change its position. "Our bill is basically trying to take away the threat of banks being investigated and having to report information so that they will do business with fully state-certified and legal medical marijuana businesses," says Chris Fitzgerald, Polis's communications director. "So AmEx's decision may or may not be impacted here. AmEx can basically decide if they want to do business with an establishment, and whether that establishment can accept AmEx."

So contrary to what those American Express commercials used to advise, medical marijuana patients who once relied on the card should now feel free to leave home without it.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana dispensary owner won't sign license application, calls it 'downright evil.'"


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16 comments
Shanty
Shanty

That would be acceptable, I am a small business and do not like to be told how to run it, by anyone. However, as long as AMEX allows payment to pirate websites, as I belong, to receive illegal distribution of copyright software, allows me to charge my card to buy adult websites and allows me to use my card, against US Federal law to gamble on the sites I gamble on, illegally, then they should not take a stand like this.  I checked, it is true and I cancelled my green card and my platinum card with them.  It is a principal and they chose the wrong one.

wtfk
wtfk

I've already called these bastards and told them though I'd have to be crazy to use a credit card to buy medicine, I've noted their fascist policy and have moved their credit card to last in my queue.  In the past, I've used their card for thousands of dollars of purchases per year--sometimes per month, when traveling.   Won't happen any more.  In fact, I may be traveling soon--on another card.

Lousendy
Lousendy

I can't buy my MMJ with an Amex card but I can buy alligator shoes, butterfly wing necklaces, elephant ivory statues, all at various establishments - either as an 'antique' or on EBAY - and I can buy booze and drive drunk killing a whole family thanks to AMEX, but I can't buy my meds.  nice.

daylate n'dollarshort
daylate n'dollarshort

Do they intend to police usage of AMEX preloaded gift cards too?  I'm guessing that most patients who have an AMEX card also have other credit/ debit plastic, but for those who don't gift cards could be worth a look.

Tweener
Tweener

I'd tell people to boycott American Express. But I don't know anyone who has an American Express card.

malcolmkyle
malcolmkyle

If you are a Prohibitionist then you owe us answers to the following questions:

#1. Why do you rejoice at the fact that we have all been stripped of our 4th amendment rights and are now totally subordinate to a corporatized, despotic government with a heavily armed and corrupt, militarized police force whose often deadly intrusions into our homes and lives are condoned by an equally corrupt and spineless judiciary?

#2. Why do you wish to continue to spend $50 billion a year to prosecute and cage your fellow citizens for choosing drugs which are not more dangerous than those of which you yourself use and approve of such as alcohol and tobacco?

#3. Do you honestly expect the rest of us to look on passively while you waste another trillion dollars on this garbage policy?

#4. Why are your waging war on your own family, friends and neighbors?

#5. Why are you so complacent with the fact that our once 'free & proud' nation now has the largest percentage of it's citizenry incarcerated than any other on the entire planet?

#6. Why are you helping to fuel a budget crisis to the point of closing hospitals, schools and libraries?

#7. Why do you rejoice at wasting precious resources on prohibition related undercover work while rapists and murderers walk free, while additionally, many cases involving murder and rape do not even get taken to trial because law enforcement priorities are subverted by your beloved failed and dangerous policy?

#8. Why are you such a supporter of the 'prison industrial complex' to the extent of endangering our own children?

#9. Will you graciously applaud, when due to your own incipient and authoritarian approach, even your own child is caged and raped?

* It is estimated that there are over 300,000 instances of prison rape a year.* 196,000 are estimated to happen to men in prison.* 123,000 are estimated to happen to men in county jail.* 40,000 are estimated to be committed against boys in either adult prisons or while in juvenile facilities or lock ups.* 5000 women are estimated to be raped in prison. 

http://www.loompanics.com/Arti...

#10. And will you also applaud when your own child, due to an unnecessary and counter productive felony conviction, can no longer find employment?

Private prisons are publicly traded and their stock value is tied to the number of inmates. Here's what the UK Economist Magazine thinks of the situation: "Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little" http://www.economist.com/node/...

According to Paul Craig Roberts, a former editor of the Wall Street Journal and former assistant secretary to the treasury under Ronald Reagan, "Police in the US now rival criminals, and exceed terrorists as the greatest threat to the American public."

"Narcotics police are an enormous, corrupt international bureaucracy and now fund a coterie of researchers who provide them with ‘scientific support’, fanatics who distort the legitimate research of others. The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents."  – William F. Buckley, Commentary in The National Review, April 29, 1983, p. 495

There is no conflict between liberty and safety. We will have both or neither.William Ramsey Clark (1927--)

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

It's comforting to know that for a mere 75 bux a year I have my own personal moral comp-ass.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

So you can buy narcotics that kill people everyday with Amex, but you can't buy MMJ that hasn't killed anyone???  They will change as more states adopt MMJ.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

Nobody thinks it possible that they weren't armtwisted by the Feds? You know the Feds charged Ed Rosenthal with money laundering 7 or 8 years ago for buying two money orders for a sum of less than $2000.

Amex cards issued by other banks like BofA and Citibank will likely not be affected.

Robert, Amex isn't so much more expensive now for merchant fees.

GetReal
GetReal

Apparently American Express has no idea on how large the MMJ Community is.  I'm wondering how long before they change their position due to loss of revenue...

Robert
Robert

 Boycott American Express!

If you have a card, take it out now and cut it in two.

Whenever you see the American Express logo, tell merchants to save themselves exorbitant card processing fees and stop supporting prohibition at the same time by dropping American Express.  Well-heeled customers and merchants should simply take their business elsewhere.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Lousendy. Thanks for sharing your views.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Ouch! Thanks for the post, which we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.

Robert
Robert

there's the rub!

Robert
Robert

I relied for that datum on a very casual Google search which seemed to be asserting that to be the case circa 10/2010 -- mea culpa.

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