The cannabis industry may offer clues to the future of bitcoin.
Although medical use marijuana is now legal in more than half the states and recreational use is in some others, the drug is still illegal on the federal level. As a result, most major banks shun the marijuana business.
The cannabis industry, projected to grow to $50 billion from $6 billion by 2026, has long been in need of a financial solution.
Many in the industry are hanging their hopes on cryptocurrencies.
Technology companies like SinglePoint and POSaBIT are working to generate a payment method for dispensaries and consumers using bitcoin. In recent years, some cryptocurrencies have cropped up specifically for cannabis transactions, like PotCoin and HempCoin.
Before bitcoin was dominating headlines with its spectacular runup, there were people using it to buy illegal drugs. But now, ironically, some people in the marijuana industry are hoping bitcoin will bolster its legitimacy.
"That reputation is being turned around," said Wil Ralston, president of SinglePoint, which is creating an app called "SingleSeed" in which consumers and dispensaries can exchange bitcoins.
Some even say that the cannabis industry can lead other businesses to embrace virtual money.