A vending machine for marijuana? Why not, it’s not new. The first recorded device like what we know today as a vending machine was developed in the first century in Egypt, by a man called Hero of Alexandria. This device dispensed holy water after inserting a coin into a slot. But I do remember seeing a version of the Flintstones where Fred did get a soda from one, but I don’t know the year.
The Chinese did develop a coin-operated pencil vending machine in 1076 A.D. Tobacco vending machines appeared in taverns in England in the 1700s.
The first modern coin-operated vending machine was invented in 1883 by Percival Everitt and appeared in post offices and railroad stations dispensing envelopes, postcards and notepaper.
In 1888 the Adams Gum Company developed gum vending machines that were placed on train platforms around New York City. These machines sold gum for a penny. The first beverage vending machine appeared in Paris, France in 1890 offering beer, wine, and liquor.
In 1926, vending machines started dispensing sodas into cups and the machines were fully automated. In that same year William Rowe invented a cigarette vending machine that started a trend toward higher priced items. Coffee vending machines were developed in late 1940’s and refrigerated sandwich vending machines followed in early 1950’s. In 1984, first vending machine that could ground and brewed fresh coffee beans was introduced. By 2006, vending machines were now able to handle credit card transactions. This would allow for almost any item to be sold through a vending machine.
So today, vending machines include everything from clothing and books to hairspray and cologne to popcorn and pizza to baseball cards and razor blades. With an estimated 2.08 million vending machines in the U.S., and dealing with COVID-19, why not cannabis? Cannabis vending machines could play a big part in future dispensary sales.
Cannabis vending machines are not new to Colorado. In 2014 the state of Colorado established legislation for vending machines that sold only edibles for medical use only. Seattle followed up with vending machines for medical patients only offering flower buds. Patients with a valid medical card and a driver’s license could complete the transaction inside a medical dispensary with an employee’s help.
On the forefront of cannabis vending machines is Boston-based anna. With anna’s AI-powered order fulfillment and retail automation, consumers can avoid lines while experiencing contactless shopping.
The first operational recreational cannabis vending machine in Colorado is located at Star Buds Recreational Marijuana Dispensary 14655 E. Arapahoe Rd., Aurora, CO 80016 (303) 699-1222. Eric Griswold, the reginal manager for Starbuds says, “it’s creating some interest and starting to create an in-store buzz”. As dispensaries have had to adapt to dealing with COVID-19 issues including a limited number of customers gathering at one time, Griswold is hoping the vending machine option will handle 10-15 customers per hour, limit in store waiting times and freeing up budtenders for customers that may need more assistance.
The anna vending machines will eventually interact with dispensaries’ websites and with mobile devices allowing customers to pre-order on their phone, pick-up their order and check out within minutes.
Check out our article with an email interview with anna’s CEO and founder Matt Frost!