The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) of New Zealand has made headlines recently with a new pot dispensing machine. Their government has reportedly shut the machine down, but a medical dispensing group in the U.S. may have found a better way to use vending machines to dispense pot.
$22,000 put into NZ dispensing machine!
The NORML marijuana machine was nothing more than a candy machine for pot. The vending machine was placed at the NORML headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand, where users could purchase a 1-gram bag of pot for the equivalent of $16 U.S. dollars.
Marijuana is illegal in New Zealand. Police recently raided the facility and removed the dispensing machine, along with $22,000 — sending a message that this kind of marijuana distribution won’t be tolerated.
U.S. companies are now jumping onboard
California-based company Medbox has come up with a machine complete with safety measures to ensure the product is only going to authorized patients. The system verifies patients through a special ID card and biometric fingerprint recognition system. The patient’s history confirms patients haven’t exceeded their limits. Photos are also taken of the patients and stored, and all data for each transaction is saved for review, if necessary.
“Our system has gained positive feedback amongst city and state officials as well as patients because it takes the alternative medicine clinic out of the backroom and into full compliance with all state regulations,” stated Vincent Mehdizadeh, CEO and Founder of Prescription Vending Machines, Inc., a subsidiary of Medbox, Inc. “Not only does our system ensure that only authorized individuals receive the medicine, but it provides an unalterable record of transactions for taxation reporting and transparency.” (1)
Risks… and rewards?
Many people who use medical marijuana, as well as those who sell it, see the Medbox as a progressive step toward safely dispensing the medication, offering convenience and privacy to the patient and safety to the seller.
But marijuana dispensaries have faced risks since their inception. Robberies are common; “Marijuana dispensaries are full of cash and they’re full of marijuana, and everybody knows that,” a federal prosecutor stated. “They are at risk of being robbed.” (1) Sellers avoid the risk of robbery, and all the recording of transactions is done automatically for them.
Medbox machines accept only credit cards or prepaid cards, and the marijuana is stored safely in a steel-walled machine. Makers are hopeful that these boxes will eventually be used throughout the country, as more states consider legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.