Pot vending machines come to Colorado

(Liz Ferron owner of Montana's)
(Liz Ferron, owner of Montana’s)

It may be a getting a little easier for Colorado’s marijuana users to get their hands on pot.

Pot-vending machines were unveiled in the state for the first time this week.

For now, the device, which is currently being displayed at a Montana’s Smokehouse location in Avon, Colo., will be available for use in licensed medical marijuana facilities.

It’ll eventually serve up snacks from medical marijuana company Herbal Elements to the eligible few.

From a technological standpoint, the makers of the “ZaZZZ” machine are conscious of the promise and perils ahead. And unlike the cupcake ATMs and vending machines that can help you satisfy your craving 24 hours a day, pot is still a bit further away from being available on the street corner.

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns is how to verify someone’s identity, age  and, in the case of medical marijuana, eligibility.

Stephen Shearin, COO of Tranzbyte, the parent company of ZaZZ maker American Green, said in an interview with the Cannabist that for now, they’re using a combination of the old-fashioned ID verification strategy and testing out new technology:

It uses the same technology that checks age/ID fraud under the Control Meth Act. Your identity is confirmed against active biometrics. The machine on display this weekend will not be taking medical cards, but we are prepared to integrate. That’s part of the ensuing time for testing in a controlled environment before full public release. With that said, people will be authorized in medical facilities before entry. Hence, internal checks will only bolster security and accounting for state and dispensary alike.

Nevertheless, the machines are still a godsend for customers who prefer the privacy and anonymity of self-checkout options.

As far as marijuana stores go, the machines largely eliminate human error.

“We’re looking forward to using the ZAZZ machine to easily track all this inventory … we’re gonna eliminate the middle man. It’ll go straight from the budtender right into our machine. There’s no room for theft by patients, employees … there’s no way to lose track of the inventory,” Herbal Elements owner Greg Honan told Fox 31 Denver.

With 21 states and D.C. allowing the legal sale of either medical or recreational marijuana, the development of vending machines to facilitate the sale of the still highly regulated substance could be the first of many innovations.

Abby Phillip is a general assignment national reporter for the Washington Post. Before that, she covered politics at ABC News and Politico. She can be reached at abby.phillip@washpost.com. On Twitter: @abbydphillip

 

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Abby Phillip | April 14