Marijuana is now being dispensed out of a vending machine that was unveiled on April 12 at an event in Avon, Colorado. In the state, recreational use of the drug has been legal for those over 21 years of age since 2012, and this year the first stores were opened to sell it for that purpose. The machines, called ZaZZZ, will be located inside dispensaries and contain pot and an assortment of “edibles.”
The ZaZZZ machines are made by the Colorado company, American Green, that calls them “an automated, age-verifying, climate-controlled marijuana dispensing machine.” The first machine is inside a dispensary called Herbal Elements, in Eagle-Vail, Colorado. For now, ZaZZZ will only be placed inside dispensaries and not in public places.
ZaZZZ will incorporate the same technology that is used under the Control Meth Act, to monitor age and ID fraud. The machines are equipped with multiple cameras to verify a person’s identity using biometrics. The buyer will swipe their identification, and the machine will verify that person’s identity. After verification, the customer pays, the product is properly bagged and delivered, and the transaction is complete. The products sold from the machine will contain a radio frequency ID chip to track each item.
The makers of the machines currently intend it to be used for medicinal marijuana users only. There are 2.5 million people in the United States who use pot for medical purposes. These users do not face an additional tax on the drug.
Greg Honan, the owner of the Colorado dispensary in which the ZaZZZ marijuana vending machine was unveiled, believes that the machines will help cut down on theft of the product. “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” said Honan.
California and Arizona also have marijuana vending machines. The Endexx in Arizona, and the Medbox in California are both currently kept behind counters. That may soon change, depending on the success of ZaZZZ.
Colorado is making big money on recreational marijuana. It is heavily taxed at 15 percent excise tax, and 12.9 percent sales tax. The state reportedly made $2 million in January from taxes on the drug. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the businesses that sell the pot made $14.02 million. The state is projected to make about $67 million per year in revenue from marijuana sales.
There are certain rules that have to be followed even though recreational use of the drug is legal in Colorado. Residents of the state that are over 21, can buy up to an ounce of weed, and out-of-state residents can buy up to a quarter ounce. A person can share it with a friend as long as there is no cash exchanged, and the amount doesn’t exceed an ounce. There is no smoking it in public places, and certain communities, counties, and towns. It is also legal to grow up to six plants in a locked, enclosed area of one’s home. It is illegal for people under the age of 21 to buy or possess weed, with Denver being the exception. The city decriminalized pot for people who fall between the age gap of 18 to 21.
Depending on the success of the newly unveiled ZaZZZ marijuana vending machine, Colorado residents might soon be in store for many more of these devices, in many more places. Colorado is really pushing the envelope where recreational pot use is concerned, and change for other states might be in store.
Opinion by Twanna Harps