How to increase your annual income

As of May 2019, 11 states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and an additional 23 states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. However, until the U.S. Government reverses course and legalizes marijuana nationwide, it will remain a Schedule 1 drug. That means marijuana dispensaries do not have access to mainstream banks, because banks that have business relationships with marijuana dispensaries can be charged with “aiding and abetting” a crime and money laundering on a federal level. According to Forbes, marijuana is a $9 billion (that’s with a B) industry that banks won’t touch.

As a result, the vast majority of marijuana dispensaries only conduct transactions in cash.

What does this mean for dispensaries?

To put it bluntly, until the U.S. Government legalizes marijuana thereby taking the threat of federal prosecution away from banks, this means another potential source of income for dispensaries.

If a customer needs to access cash funds in order to make a purchase of marijuana from a dispensary, dispensaries would be wise to bring the cash to the customer. By providing ATMs within their businesses, dispensaries are mitigating the hassle of cash-only purchases. Customers can select their product of choice, and then immediately access the cash they need to pay for the product via the ATM. Additionally, when people have cash in their hands, they tend to spend it. So, by providing an easy way for customers to access cash, the likelier customers are to buy more product.

Not only are dispensaries adding to their profits by increased sales of product, they are also earning extra revenue by collecting surcharge fees from ATM transactions. An on-site ATM that has high usage rates can earn a business an increased potential gross annual income of over $10,000.

Here is an example of the potential annual gross earnings for 1 ATM:

# of Transactions per month

($3.00 surcharge fee)

150 200 250 300
Potential Annual Gross Income $5,400 $7,200 $9,000 $10,800


Should Dispensaries Buy or Lease an ATM?

That depends. For many years the cost of an ATM was prohibitively expensive for dispensaries. Thankfully, over time, the cost of an ATM has gone down, while the quality of ATMs has gone up.

Purchasing an ATM outright requires cash on the front end. Some dispensaries, especially those who have been around for a while and have the profit margin to absorb the cost of an ATM, might feel they are better served by procuring an ATM.

Buying an ATM

  Up Front Costs Service Required Income Potential
Buying an ATM $$$ $$ $$$

While the upfront costs for outright purchasing an ATM are higher than other options, over time that ATM will provide dispensaries a good return on investment (ROI). Once the ATM has been paid off, then all profits are the dispensary’s to keep.

On the other hand, some dispensaries, particularly dispensaries that are new to the marijuana market, might not want the additional upfront cost of purchasing an ATM. It might behoove these dispensaries to lease an ATM rather than purchasing it, lessening their one-time costs since their lease payments will be made over the duration of their lease.

Leasing an ATM

  Up Front Costs Service Required Income Potential
Leasing an ATM $$ $$ $$

The greatest advantage of leasing an ATM is that dispensary owners will be earning income from ATM surcharge fees while they are making payments on it. Lease rates often depend on a business owner’s credit history and the length of the leasing agreement.

Some additional advantages to leasing an ATM include:

  1. Lease payments are always the same. Dispensary owners will always know what their monthly payments will be, which will allow for better annual budgeting.
  2. Expenses are cash deductible.
  3. Dispensary owners can recoup their expenses each month out of the ATM operation commission.

There is a third option available to marijuana dispensaries, and that is ATM Placement.

ATM Placement

  Up Front Costs Service Required Income Potential
ATM Placement $

ATM Placement incorporates advantages from both of the above options, and that is creating a partnership with an Independent ATM Distributor (IAD) such as GreenStar ATM. In this situation, dispensary owners may be looking for a way to increase revenue but don’t want to bother with buying or leasing an ATM. Therefore, having an ATM placed in their retail space might be the best option. Installation, maintenance, and vaulting are all covered by the IAD, but the dispensary owner receives a monthly fee or a percentage of the monthly gross earnings in exchange for providing the space for the ATM placement.

Whether dispensaries choose to buy, lease, or place an ATM in their business location, having an ATM available at a cash-only business makes sense. It makes the financial transaction between customer and dispensary more seamless while at the same time accruing higher profits for the dispensary in the form of more product sales and acquired surcharge fees.

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