10 min read |  Why we are pivoting – read all about it

In the brief time we have launched Revibalist as a collective of hand-picked craft Cannabis brands, we have connected with growers, emerging brands, kindred spirits in wellness, and conscientious consumers who actively source plants over pills. It has been humbling to seeing you all share and exchange experiences in your pursuit of CBD and to destigmatize Cannabis.

Elavon Bank announced they would no longer be supporting CBD merchant accounts beyond May 15, 2019. We have considered reapplying for a new merchant account, but in full transparency, the requirements are getting more difficult to pursue. 

  • First of all, high-risk merchants have all the supply to limit demand, basic economics right there.
  • As businesses, we pay to play, meaning we pay higher transaction fees and higher service fees because there are only a handful of banks to dabble in high-risk payments.
  • High-risk merchants include gambling, adult products, telemarketing, online dating, MLM, travel services, bail bonds. As you can see high-risk is a broad stroke and covers industries all over the place.
  • New merchant accounts want to see $25,000 MRR and as a fledgling startup, we aren't pushing that much product.
  • As a smaller merchant, we could consider applying with a European bank but US credit card companies protect their customer from fraud, so it can tie up your revenue for months until the customer's US credit card releases funds to the European bank to process payment to our US eCommerce business.

That being said, please do not @ us about signing up for Square, Squarespace, Shopify or BigCommerce Payments, PayPal, Stripe, etc. Those are not high-risk payment processors, not because they do not want to be or fail to see the business opportunity. This is mainly because those processiong banks tied to those technology and processing gateways are insured by the FDIC for low-risk transactions. Separate entities in a tethered partnership means the one holding the purse strings calls the shots.

And wouldn't you think we would have tapped all of the low-hanging fruit? I know you mean well, but let's not be so forthcoming with suggestions that are quite obvious. I have spent 80+ hours with payment processors submitting my application to the same bank and getting quadruply denied, then finding out it's all the same bank, not 4 options. Getting accepted in Elavon, the 2nd verified merchant account option we have come across out of 10 applications, within days was our saving grace and that is quickly dissolving in the palm of our hands.

What's even more dubious is the contradiction in these events existing in our legislation:

  • Hemp-derived Cannabinoids are legal in the US with a few restrictive states that define acceptance with either of full spectrum hemp less than 0.3% THC or the adverse of broad spectrum hemp with 0% THC only.
  • Although widely accepted, Cannabis as a plant is still a schedule 1 drug as determined by the DEA.
  • California, New York, and more states are prohibiting the sale and use of CBD in food and drink because the FDA has no regulation over legal Cannabis from farm to production.
  • This all comes down to the confusion between illegal marijuana and legal hemp-derived CBD. Let's agree that yes, it would be hard to distinguish at-a-glance which is why this whole legalization situation has become convoluted.

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These last 6 months have been wilder than you can ever imagine. 

If only you were a fly on the wall when we got to meet Steve DeAngelo, the "Father of Cannabis", in Austin, TX during South by Southwest. If only you were in that emotional hug with Julia Jacobson of Aster Farms exhaling all the feels from that Mercury Retrograde. If only you were sitting in that incredibly moving Cacao Ceremony on the rooftop of Aviator Nation guided by Sarita Woody into the depth of your spirit. If only you got to meet Felicity Chen of Potli and get a sense of the magnitude she and Christine Yi are building with Potli. If only you got to hear Ricky Williams talk about his comeback and this beautiful business he built with his wife, Linnea. 

The Pro-Cannabis community is open, welcoming, clarifying, ambitious, entrepreneurial and even predominantly led by women. Join us in the pursuit of advocacy and business. We must protect this space from big pharma and continue to equalize who stands to gain from this sustainable and versatile plant. 

RVB 2.0 is well underway. There's a better way for us to have skin in the game and we will be back after a much needed reprieve and pivot.


If you made it this far and need to be connected with an honest payment processor, we'd be happy to make an introduction. Just email us: vibe@shoprevibalist.com