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OPINIONS: Counterfeit money and the cannabis industry

By Alex Reichmann,
CEO, iTestCash

According to Arc View Market Research, it is estimated that the size of the legal cannabis industry in the US will grow to $ 7.1 billion by the end of 2016.

This growth is attributed to the recreational use in the states where cannabis has been legalized. And sales are much higher than those made by Dasani, Oreo or by selling Girl Scout cookies.

This means that shops that sell legal marijuana handle lots of cash on a regular basis. Since most counterfeiters try to pass off counterfeit money to local retailers, there’s a good chance they will also attempt to pass them off at stores that sell cannabis, since they know that such shops have a high cash transaction on a regular basis. So how does something like this affect you?

Even if you have never tried to pass off counterfeit money before, you may find yourself in trouble when making a purchase from one of these outlets in case you ever get accused of trying to pass off counterfeit money. This may happen when you unknowingly receive fake money from someone and you use the money to make a purchase without realizing that the money is not real.

So what should you do if you ever get accused by one of the marijuana sellers of trying to pass of fake money?

  • Realize that the seller will not give you your money back. This is because retailers are expected to confiscate any fake money that they come across, since it is illegal to deliberately pass of fake money to someone else. Therefore, you should not cause a scene or demand to be given your money back by force.
  • Expect the police to be called. This is because it is the duty of the seller to alert the police of any cases of counterfeit money. Hence, do not panic if the police show up. The police will pick up the money, so as try and trace the original counterfeiters and put a stop to counterfeiting.

Expect the police to ask you to write down everything you remember about how you may have come across the note. This includes where and from whom you may have received the money from.

  • Ask to be given a receipt to acknowledge that the money has been collected from you. In case the police find that the money is genuine then you will be given back the money. However, if the money is not authentic, do not expect to be compensated. You will have to bear the cost of losing the money.
  • If things deteriorate and the store owner gets aggressive then you may have to call your lawyer to come to your rescue. Alternatively, you can call one of your friends to help you handle the situation.

To prevent yourself from ever finding yourself in such a situation, the best thing to do is to be proactive. Learn how to distinguish genuine currency from counterfeit currency. Be familiar with how paper money feels like and the security features to be on the lookout for. You can even use a detector pen or other counterfeit money detection tools to check the authenticity of notes and coins that you come across.

On the other hand, if you run a cannabis business, it is advisable to get an anti-counterfeit machine, so as to use it to screen all currency that comes into your business. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Alex Reichmann is a counterfeit detection expert and CEO of iTestCash- a business that supplies retailers throughout the US with money handling and retail security equipment. To learn more about detecting counterfeit money, please visit

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