Washington eyes vending machines for pot

In-store use possible here; Colorado rolling out its first device

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Pot vending machines may be coming to Washington’s pot stores.

They’re apparently rolling into Colorado, or at least into one Colorado shop. The Denver Post, in its “The Cannabist blog,” reported that an “automated, age-verifying, climate-controlled” vending machine is being installed inside a Colorado medical-marijuana dispensary.

Washington state is considering allowing such machines in its recreational-pot shops, according to Randy Simmons, deputy director of the state Liquor Control Board, the agency implementing the state’s legal-pot law.

“At first blush, it seems feasible that they could be used in a licensed retail store, but I would need more internal discussion to say yes for sure,” Simmons said.

“I think it would be workable, basically the customer is simply bypassing the cash register,” Simmons continued in an email. “They can’t get access to the product unless they purchase it, it is prepackaged, and only the retailer feeds the machine. Seems like a viable option.”

Expected to open in July, recreational-pot shops in Washington will not allow anyone under 21 inside. So minors using the vending machines is not a concern.

Having a vending machine inside a store — where you can buy all kinds of pot products from “budtenders” — seems unnecessary. But the machine in Colorado is being touted in our increasingly self-service society as convenient for customers who don’t want to wait in lines, and for those who are particularly shy.

A representative of the Arizona company that manufactures the machines, named ZaZZZ, told The Denver Post that a customer would start a transaction by swiping his or her driver’s license to verify age.

The machine would then use cameras and biometrics, such as facial recognition, to make sure the person buying a pot product is the owner of the driver’s license. The customer would then pay by credit or debit card to complete the deal.