Are marijuana vending machines the future?
The purpose of a machine is to improve or replace. Some machines we use because they’re more efficient than using our hands: a toothbrush, a hammer. In the case of a vending machine, the purpose is to do what a person can’t or won’t — or what someone else doesn’t want to pay them to do.
The allure of a vending machine is that unlike a person, a vending machine won’t complain about doing hard and dirty work in the forlorn places vending machines are generally found. In bus stops, airport terminals, hotel lobbies at 4 a.m., hospital cafeterias after visiting hours and anywhere with fluorescent lighting, linoleum floors and plastic seating, the vending machine rules supreme.
Berkeley Patients Group, where I find myself staring a marijuana vending machine in its “face” on a recent February evening, is none of those places. I’m standing just inside the dispensary’s front door, doing a regular dance — one step forward, two back — so as to not obstruct the people coming and going to the well-staffed counter a few steps to my left. Some of the customers coming and going give the machine a half-interested glance while dodging me before going to the counter to make their purchase.
I want to join them, but I cannot. Today, I must avoid human interaction. Today, it is me, the machine and the question of whether punching at a touch-screen before feeding a locked box a stack of $20 bills is the future of cannabis retail.
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