On Tuesday, February 3rd, medical cannabis vending machines officially opened in Seattle, WA. The same thing has been available in Denver since last April, and we are hoping to see a rise in this trend, both medically and recreationally, across the country.

These vending machines are called ZaZZZ, and allow customers to purchase cannabis straight from the machine instead of having to deal with a budtender.

"It's a way to take something that has proven itself as a viable business model throughout the last century, and bring it into the 21st century," stated Stephen Shearin, who serves as president of technology company American Green Inc, the provider of the machines, in an interview with Reuters.

“We imagine it filling the needs based on the dispensary and their client needs/wants ultimately, but for now, I see someone who knows what they want approaching the machine, purchasing and departing — all within regulatory guidelines, but without the counter lines,” he stated last April in an interview with The Cannabist following the implementation of vending machines in Denver. “Great for shy folk as well. Swipe ID and get verified. Select products and pay. Retrieve products and depart using appropriate bagging solution.”

The machines contain not only cannabis flower, but also oil, vapor pens, edibles, and infused drinks. Their purpose is to supply high-quality products with ease and convenience, and ideally, without having to speak to a representative in order to get the product you want.

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“First, think of automated checkouts at the market, Shearin told The Cannabist when speaking of the benefits of the machine. “Not for everyone, but for those who use it, they love it. Next consider a regular or perhaps a somewhat shy customer who is capable of self-service. Finally (for this list but certainly not all that we believe can be achieved) consider proprietary products that can be introduced without the dispensary having to change its displays — or manufacturers being able to put products in and see sales for them and the dispensary without being part of the normal PO system. No hold up for net 30 or cash constraints, ZaZZZ lets the show go on in those cases.”

Shearin also feels there are many reasons why these vending machines would be helpful to customers. “Efficiencies, better client experience when employees don’t have to hop from conversation to payment facility and, yes, the wow factor in the beginning,” he listed off to The Cannabist regarding more pros of the machine. “I don’t think we’ve yet conceived of where it can go, but what it does already has been met with positive feedback and anticipation. Did I mention proprietary products?”

However, there are still some issues regarding the legality of these vending machines and their placement. Many legislators are skeptical that these will lead to fraud or underage people being able to buy cannabis, the very thing the industry is working so hard to try and avoid.

“Understandable concerns of course,” said Shearin in response to a question from The Cannabist about these objections. “ In no way do we see versions 1, 2 or 3 sitting in a public square. It may never and that’s not what the business was built on per se. On the contrary, we believe that the process will enhance legal sales facilities in ensuring that controlled substances (so far as we can control at the time of sale) are dispensed solely into the hands of those who qualify legally — let alone proprietary biometrics that are yet to come”

So far, while Denver allows for use of unmanned machines, Washington law still requires the machines to be behind the counter at all times, and only operated by professionals. As these machines become more popular and accepted, regulations will undoubtedly be loosened, and the cannabis vending experience will become more enjoyable for everyone.