Business & EconomyWeed now sold in vending machines in some US states

Weed now sold in vending machines in some US states

At Terrapin Care Station dispensary in Aurora, consumers can now buy weed the same way they might buy their favorite chocolates — from a vending machine.

Early part of February, Terrapin Care Station installed an Automated Cannabis Experience (ACE), a large machine that facilitates the ordering of marijuana products via touch screen and dispenses them ready to be taken home.

Terrapin Care Station developed ACE in partnership with Canadian vending machine company BMC Universal Technologies, making it the first fully automated weed kiosk on the market.

Weed Dispenser

The Boulder-based company first unveiled the dispenser at the MJBizCon trade show in November, where industry personnel and buffs lined up daily to try it out.

“It was crazy, it felt like we had an amusement park ride there,” said spokesperson Peter Marcus.

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Locals who want to see the new technology for themselves can head to Terrapin Care Station at 11091 E. Mississippi Ave. in Aurora, which boasts the only ACE in use at this time. When they arrive, they still need to check in with and show proof they are at least 21 years old to a dispensary representative to be granted entry.

But once inside the weed shop, they can complete their purchases without ever interacting with a budtender.

How to use the machine

Customers simply walk up to the machine, scan their ID, and use a touch screen to inspect the menu and fill their digital basket. The ACE can hold up to 1,152 products, Marcus said, and because it’s refrigerated, consumers can order concentrates that require being stored at a certain temperature, which includes flowers, edibles, vape oil cartridges, and other items. And of course, weed.

Once ready to check out, customers pay using cash – the machine does not currently accept debit cards – and watch through a 38-by-30-inch glass window as the ACE grabs, bags, seals, and places a purchased sticker on their order before dispensing it like your average vending machine.

While Terrapin Care Station eventually plans to install ACE machines at its five other dispensaries on the Front Range, Marcus said the company’s long-term goal is to sell the technology to other “struggling” retailers throughout the state and country.

A game changer

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Cannabis sales hit record highs during the pandemic — accounting for about $2.2 billion in 2020 and another $2.2 billion in 2021, according to the Marijuana Enforcement Division, but have since plummeted.

In 2022, sales from January through November totaled about $1.6 billion — a 21% decrease compared to the same period a year prior.

Additionally, Marcus said many dispensaries are also experiencing the same staffing crisis plaguing other service industry sectors. Adding an automated check-out experience can help fill the staff gaps and speed up the purchasing experience for customers.

“Plus, it’s kind of a fun experience, not going to lie. It’s something that potentially draws new consumers in,” Marcus said.

If it catches on, the folks at Terrapin Care Station believe ACE could revolutionize the industry and pop up in places where traditional vending machines reside. Chris Woods, Terrapin Care Station’s CEO, called it “a genuinely game-changing way for consumers to purchase cannabis,” in a statement.

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“It’s not crazy to think in a few years from now – with regulation changes – you might see these at Union Station, or like ATM expresses where you swipe cards to get into the use the ATM,” Marcus said.

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