A cannabis dispensary owner in Southwest Portland tells WW that employees at two different Fred Meyer locations in the past year, in South Burlingame and Tigard, have refused to process money for her electric bill for her marijuana grow.
Sally Bishop owns Green Goddess Remedies and says she’s used the store’s bill-assistance service to pay her bills for the past six months. But she says an employee last week told her he couldn’t accept the money because she worked in the cannabis industry.
“I felt badly for the kid at the [desk], because he recognized me and he’s helped me before. He says, ‘If I process this payment, I could get fired,’” Bishop says.
When she reached out to her power company, Portland General Electric sent Bishop an email recommending she pay it through a service offered at Walmart. But the service at Walmart, Bishop says, requires a bank account—and cannabis businesses have very limited access to banking services due to the plant’s status as a Schedule I drug federally.
“It’s like, don’t you get it?” Bishop said.
Because banking services for cannabis owners are meager and hard to access, dispensary owners often deal solely in cash, and lots of it. (This also leaves dispensaries particularly vulnerable to break-ins: Earlier this year, WW wrote about the slew of armed robberies at Portland dispensaries that’s rattled the industry.)
“Everyone runs around and pays bills with what they can with cash,” Bishop says.
To Bishop, it’s simple. She’s paying her business’s electric bill on time. The rest? “It’s none of their beeswax.”
A spokesperson for Fred Meyer told WW in an email: “At this time, our policy does not allow us to knowingly sell money services products to marijuana related businesses. However, this policy does not impact check cashing, including the cashing of payroll checks.”
It’s unclear if the policy is a long-standing one since cannabis was legalized in Oregon, or if it’s a newer policy. The company did not answer follow-up questions about the history of the policy, or if it’s handed down by Kroger, which owns Fred Meyer.
Kroger, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company, bought Fred Meyer more than 20 years ago.