Cannabis and Cash Management Best Practices in 2022


Legal cannabis is poised to become a $30 billion U.S. industry in 2022. At this point in the commercial cannabis timeline, only 18 states have legalized the plant for medical sales, recreational use, or both. Unlike the earliest cannabis dispensaries, retailers entering the market today can hit the ground running. Businesses in the cannabis space can draw from examples of successful retail programs, best practices, equipment, and vendor partners with relevant experience in the industry.

Although the retail cannabis industry has become more sophisticated, streamlined, and experienced, one thing has not changed – the use of cash for most transactions. The SAFE Banking Act protects financial institutions and other professional service firms from federal liability for conducting commerce with legal cannabis businesses. However, the Senate ultimately removed the SAFE Banking Act from the December 2021 defense spending bill. Bipartisan cooperation at the federal level is unlikely this year which means that cannabis dispensaries will continue to operate almost exclusively in cash, at least for the near future.

Several dispensaries now utilize automated cash handling machines that integrate hardware and software for a seamless cash management solution. The cash automation systems best suited for cannabis outlets include back-office cash recyclers and smart safes. A reliable cash automation system from a trusted manufacturer checks many boxes for cannabis retailers:

Cannabis businesses are highly regulated, and accurate record-keeping is critical to meet compliance. Dispensaries must keep track of every dollar and maintain meticulous records. By automating with cash management devices, dispensaries can produce accurate, auditable records of cash flow in the business.

Taking cash payments and returning change for every single transaction requires a large capacity of reserve bills and coins to use throughout the day. It is not safe or prudent for employees to shuttle cash to and from the safe to replenish or store money. A cash recycler not only secures cash like a safe, but it also dispenses bills. Machines like back-office cash recyclers allow dispensaries to reuse smaller denominations for change or replenish tills. Surplus bills securely stored in self-sealing stacking bags allow CIT companies to transport cash easily.

Depending on volume, dispensaries using manual methods may have to dedicate two or more employees to spend hours on register reconciliation each day. With the current labor shortage, automation makes more sense than ever. Cash handling machines can dispense floats, reconcile tills and track cash quickly and accurately. The dispensary can focus employee attention on customer service and sales activities instead of cash management.

Cash-intensive businesses are targets for crime. From outright smash-and-grab robberies to employee skimming, the risk of theft is very high. Cash recyclers and smart safes deter crime and keep records of all users and transactions. Counterfeit note detection is built into the machines and adds another layer of protection from fraud.

The market is crowded with companies wanting a piece of the cannabis pie. Identify vendors and partners with experience and expertise in the cannabis space. Look for a track record of delivering solutions to the cannabis industry and excellent customer support. By partnering with experienced companies, new and established cannabis businesses can benefit from industry knowledge and machines suited to the cannabis marketplace.

CIMA has worked with many dispensaries. Learn more about how we can help you