U.S. coin shortage has Michigan dispensary trading rolls of pennies for pot

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many shortages in the U.S., such as a lack of personal protective gear (PPE), hospital beds, prescription medications, medical testing equipment and meat products.

But now, the pandemic-embattled country is facing another shortage: one that has the U.S. Mint literally begging for change.

As the coronavirus closed businesses across the nation, the circulation of coins faced a significant drop. The situation further deteriorated after major staff layoffs at the U.S. Mint, which manufactures the country’s coins. In response, the Mint is asking Americans to “start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk.”

But one Michigan cannabis dispensary has figured out a unique way of battling the scarcity by asking clients to trade pennies for pot.

As of July 28, The Greenhouse of Walled Lake Dispensary, a licensed medical and adult-use cannabis shop in Walled Lake, East Michigan, will accept rolls of coins as payment for pot – and if clients bring in $100 worth of coins (or more), they’ll receive a bonus free product.

“There has been so much impact on our community due to the COVID-19 virus and the coin shortage is yet another example,” the dispensary owner Jerry Millen told WXYZ. “I decided we urge customers to bring in their coins. They roll the coins, we roll the cannabis, and we would have some fun at the same time.”

Millen says that the pot shop will continue the “Coins for Cannabis” promotion until the business accumulates enough coins to satisfy its regular operations.

“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of funds through the economy has stopped,” Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee in June. “We are working with the Mint and the Reserve Banks, and as the economy re-opens, we are starting to see money move around again.”

But as many states have started to re-open, the demand for pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters has drastically increased – while the coin supply has not.

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