Canadian Vending

Features Payment Technology
From the Editor: January/February 2008

What’s The Buzz?


February 26, 2008
By Cam Wood


Topics

The recent news out of Los Angeles should hardly cause any excitement;
although the mainstream media have jumped all over it like a flea on a
poodle.
For those who have not yet heard, the current buzz is surrounding a vending machine that doles out medicinal marijuana.


What's The Buzz?

The recent news out of Los Angeles should hardly cause any excitement; although the mainstream media have jumped all over it like a flea on a poodle.

For those who have not yet heard, the current buzz is surrounding a vending machine that doles out medicinal marijuana. A number of dispensaries in California have installed the machines to provide a higher level of convenience, speed and anonymity to authorized users.

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The glitch for California and inventor Vincent Mehdizadeh, is that the “golden state” does not recognize medicinal marijuana as legal pharmacology. And, while it’s safe to say that the vending industry is not on a high right now, the same thing cannot be said of the potential impact automatic retailing can have in our lives.

Pharmaceutical vending is not a new idea. For many in remote communities in northern Canada and the broad, expansive states like Montana, these machines have served a greater purpose in dispensing common medicines when a pharmacy is not readily accessible. The delivery models are remarkable demonstrations of how our industry can go beyond pop and chips.

As anyone with even the slightest understanding of the pharmaceutical industry knows, medicinal marijuana is not exactly the most sought after drug. While the machine has drawn the interest because of societal hunger for scandal, the shelves behind the drugstore counter are packed with more potent and valuable vices.

And, upon deeper examination of the California test case, there are some remarkable examples of taking traditional vending technology to higher levels. The machines require a pre-paid “smart card” to operate, along with fingerprint scanning, before any of the drug is dispensed. And, each user must be in the authorized electronic database.

Mehdizadeh might be hallucinating about his machine’s viability in a state that approves Botox – a known toxin – for its sun-bleached residents but not proven pain-relievers. But, his ingenuity is something that pretty much any “dude” in the vending industry can class as “gnarly.”
Identifying a need, purpose and probability turned into a tidy success for Mehdizadeh, whose primary role is neither manufacturer nor vendor. If it were, imagine how much more potential could have come from his progressive thought.

The jury is still out on whether or not federal drug agents will allow the operation to grow and prosper. But, dude … the rumours that Mehdizadeh had installed snack machines beside the marijuana vender aren’t true.  And there’s still no word from Cheech and Chong about endorsements.