Hundreds of cashless ATM machines located in medical marijuana dispensaries in at least two states – the life-blood of businesses otherwise forced to work in cash – were shut down Wednesday, just days after similar machines were unplugged from recreational shops.
The machines in Colorado and Washington were connected to a network served by MetaBank in South Dakota, which in January warned ATM providers by e-mail that machines located in marijuana shops violated federal banking rules.
But the machines remained unaffected until this week, according to owners of cannabis shops impacted by the turn-off said.
A spokesman for MetaBank or its parent company, Meta Financial Group, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. MetaBank's electronic arm, Meta Payment Systems, is the largest ATM sponsor in the country.
"This isn't about bank accounts, it's about a merchant processor who simply decided to stop processing," said Ean Seeb, co-owner of Denver Relief Center, where cashless machines were deactivated this week.