This article was originally published on WeedWeek, and appears here with permission.
A few years back, EZ Weed was making the rounds with state legislators and local politicians, hoping to sell them on cannabis vending machines in dispensaries. Among its benefits, the company touted the fingerprint-reading technology the machines use to authenticate users. According to director of operations Richard Dow, “Three different lawmakers asked us, ‘What if someone cuts off someone else’s finger and uses that?”
Instead, EZ Weed opted for a technology that reads the veins pulsing under the fingertip. Everyone’s blood vessels are unique, just as fingerprints are, and the technology, according to Dow, is foolproof. Best of all for swaying paranoid legislators, “There has to be blood running through the finger for it to work,” he said. That is, the finger has to be attached to a living person.
The experience highlights a challenge facing the makers of cannabis vending machines, who have been trying, and mostly failing, to make headway in the legal-weed business for close to a decade: reluctant regulators and lawmakers. A few states, like Nevada and Oregon, ban cannabis vending machines outright.
It might seem redundant for a dispensary to house a vending machine filled with products that are also on the shelves. But in some cases, they could save dispensary owners’ money and customers’ time. But so far, they haven’t worked as intended.
In most states, the problem is technological: it’s not easy to make a machine that can do all the things budtenders do: Verifying customers’ identities, tracking inventory for government reporting and entering transactions into point-of-sale systems.
The barriers facing vending machine businesses are such that, after a few rollouts between about 2012 and 2015, most dispensaries decided to do without them. They didn’t live up to their promise