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Convenient cannabis: Vending machine checks ID

American Green is debuting a new super sophisticated vending machine that will feature everything from casino chips to pharmaceuticals. USA TODAY

In an age when vending machines can dispense anything from lipstick to headphones, perhaps it was only a matter of time before the industry would dream up a new, automated way to help people stock up on marijuana.

American Green, a Phoenix-based medical-cannabis technology company, has unveiled a prototype for a vending machine that uses biometric verification technology to sell controlled and age-restricted items. Besides dope, it can dispense other items where positive identification is a purchasing prerequisite — pharmaceuticals, casino chips, alcoholic beverages or even guns.

The device would be ideal for casinos that want to go cashless, drug stores looking to sell prescription-only or other controlled items like antihistimines and pot dispensaries that have customers who would rather avoid a face-to-face transaction, according to American Green’s Chief Operating Officer Stephen Shearin.

The unique feature of the prototype is that it can screen potential buyers. A customer sets up an account with a government-issued identification and, when needed, a doctor’s prescription. A scan of the account holder’s finger verifies it’s the right person. The machine is outfitted with a camera.

Vending machines could work in places like senior centers, where older people who want pot could get it without having to drive to a dispensary, says Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, the name now for what used to be the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws,  Of the 29 states where medical marijuana is legal, some, like Louisiana, only allow sales in dispensaries. Others, like California, are OK with off-site transactions.

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“This could make individuals who need it more comfortable. They won’t run into their pastor or kindergarten teacher outside a dispensary,” Altieri said/

Don’t even think about cutting off someone else’s finger to gain access to his or her account, though. Sherain explained that the finger scanner looks at vein architecture and if there’s no blood flowing through the dismembered digit, nothing will show up.

Tim Sanford, editor-in-chief of the trade publication Vending Times, dismissed concerns that a vending machine chockful of adult vices would be a tempting target for thieves. It would need to be placed in a safe, heavily-trafficked area, where there’d be no time to use powerful cutters to break into enforced steel boxes.

“If people are going to steal product out of a vending machine, they could probably find a better place to steal it from. You could break into a liquor. store,” he said.

Article Originally Posted on USA Today. Article by Zlati Meyer – Original Article

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