There has been a huge shift in the cannabis industry. More than 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, and support for cannabis has reached historic levels, with a majority of Americans in favor of legalization and decriminalization efforts.

Yet, the cannabis industry is still facing major hurdles. Although marijuana may be legal in many states, it is currently classified as a schedule 1 drug by the Controlled Substance Act.

Dispensaries, growers and manufacturers who are operating businesses have had problems obtaining banking and financial services, as banks are regulated by the federal government. This had forced them to operate in a cash-only business structure.

There are a number of safety and security risks in cash businesses, from theft to transportation concerns. Government and regulatory agencies also lose out on millions in unreported taxes that could help fund social and educational programs.

“This is a huge problem for cannabis growers and businesses,” says Elaine Geller, VP of Government Affairs at Amercanex, an online marketplace for the cannabis industry. “Legal cannabis businesses need access to banking and other financial services to succeed.“

Those looking for a safe, secure and compliant banking solution are turning to closed-loop payment systems, where growers and producers can process private credit cards via banks. These systems offer a number of banking and merchant services that are badly needed.

“We realized our members weren’t able to pay their employees, deposit money or even run their businesses efficiently because the banks were shutting them out,” says Michael Herron, Amercanex Chief Operating Officer. “So we created ACEpay.”

ACEpay allows Amercanex members to deposit cash and pay their bills, payroll and taxes on time and in compliance with banking regulations. ACEpay funds are fully secured and insured, and users can use a pre-paid Visa or MasterCard linked to their ACEpay account.

No longer does the dispensary, cultivator or manufacturer need cash to conduct business, as ACEpay helps to eliminate the security risks associated with a cash-only business.

“There have been stories of people walking around with tens of thousands of dollars in bags to pay their taxes, simply because they can’t put the money in a bank,” says Geller. “They’re putting themselves at risk just by trying to operate a legal business.”

ACEpay’s cash and management system allows cardholders to use the card anywhere major credit cards are accepted, granting both dispensaries and consumers the ability to conduct business safely and efficiently. ACEpay is one of three powerful platforms Amercanex offers. Their online marketplace ACExchange ensures fair and orderly transactions and ACEtrak is a seed-to-sale tracking program with security, compliance and accounting capabilities.

“We’re hoping this will make it easier for everyone, from growers to consumers to manufacturers, operate a more efficient and secure business,” says Herron. “It fills a huge gap in the industry.”