The authority to print money in the U.S. rests solely with the federal government, and the only legal tender in the country is the U.S. dollar.

So, while the Tenino Wooden Dollar sounds like a great idea, is it legal?

If it really were a competing currency, the answer would be no. But it’s really more like scrip — a certificate that can be exchanged for goods — and scrip has been used by all manner of towns, regions, companies, and organizations for hundreds of years. As long as they are not used to avoid taxes and can be exchanged — or ultimately exchanged — for U.S. dollars, they are legal.

“No one is going to be held accountable for this because they are not actually creating money, as it’s legally defined,” Jesse Kraft of the American Numismatic Society told CNN in evaluating the Tenino currency. “These are just tokens that are creating an economic stimulus.”

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