With the rapid technological developments in today’s world, automation of tasks is becoming very popular. For many years, Californians have been buying chips, candy bars, and other products from vending machines. In recent years, marijuana vending machines were also introduced.
America’s first use of vending machines was in 1888, selling gum of New York train platforms. The high success rate made other businesses adopt it for purposes such as selling electronics, receipts, and food.
In 2013, few years before recreational weed could be legalized; Los Angeles had over 3 weed dispensaries using the technology. The machines really buzzed California dispensaries and weed delivery businesses.
Unlike most of the existing vending machines, those for weed have several security features to restrict people who can access their products. For example, people who had marijuana recommendations had to insert a pre-approved membership card and get their finger scanned before they could select from around 800 items in the Orange County-based Dispense labs’ vending machine.
According to Dale Sky Jones of Oaksterdam University, a cannabis college and the first of its type in America, there are very little chances dispensaries will install their vending machines in grocery stores, shopping centers, or other public places. This means most of them will still rely on direct sales, and weed delivery businesses for customers that order online marijuana.
Most weed vending machine manufacturers are opposed to installing their products in unsecured public places due to security and social reasons.
Dr. Bruce Bedrick, CEO of Medbox, which manufacturers medical vending machines said that a time would come when weed will become socially acceptable to the extent it would be sold to the public via vending machines. In that week, Medbox condemned San Diego’s measure to approve the machines.
Vending machines are not an entirely new idea to California as some Southern California companies have been working on them for some years, and now offer them for lease or sale to weed dispensaries. Most of the companies’ claim their machines are a high-tech, effective, and very reliable way of managing stock as well as a better way to serve qualifying weed users.
Barrera, whose company makes Autospense, which can hold an estimated 800 weed products, said that their products are a huge relief for dispensary workers. He said that with time dispensary workers will no longer have to spend the whole day at work. They will demand a break like their grocery store and Home Depot counterparts.
Oakland’s Oaksterdam University brought in an Autospense machine so their students interested in learning about the pot industry could get a closer look at it.
Jones said that there are numerous benefits from vending machines including cutting out the process of another person or two having to do the activities involved in the marijuana selling process including weighting, touching, and counting both weed and money.
When asked whether he thinks the machines will make it to airports, streets, shopping malls, and other public places, he said there is plenty of evidence from ‘Cops’ videos that indicates some individuals will take a truck and tie a chain around the machine, and cart it off if it’s on the street. He said that security is major concern and many dispensaries seem unlikely to take such enormous risk.
Barrera said that there was a long process for people who wanted to buy from the vending machines. They needed to possess a valid weed medical card, register into the machine’s system, and pass the fingerprint identification test.
With such security measures, non-qualifying individuals couldn’t access the products. It was almost impossible for an unauthorized individual to have weed patient credentials, swipe a card, and pass the fingerprint identity without getting noticed. He also said their machines were being monitored 24/7.
Barrera said that a marijuana vending machine costs $60,000, so most dispensaries had to watch over it and the contents in it.
With the legalization of recreational weed in California, things have taken a new turn. Firstly, there is a surge in demand for weed that may overcome vending machines. Also, several laws are in place to regulate the growing, harvesting, processing, sale, and consumption of weed.
Against all odds, recreational cannabis vending machines are out already with the first one in place at Berkeley Patients Group, a popular Bay Area weed dispensary. It’s manufactured by Grasshopper Kiosks, and there are high chances more are coming.
According to American Green’s vice president of automated sales and development, Lindel Creed, it’s not right to call them vending machines as they play more roles than other products of this type. The American Green vending machines can check users’ identity, save customers’ profiles, and give more information about available products. It’s more than placing a button, putting in cash, and getting the product dispensed.
He advises people to first visit a weed dispensary so they can know which product is best for them before they can use a vending machine as this will make things easier for them.