Your 3 p.m. walk to the office vending machine may soon get a lot happier. At least three companies are currently developing vending machines for marijuana after Colorado and Washington State recently legalized it’s recreational use. Retail sale is expected to start in Colorado by January 2014 with Washington State following shortly after. Only one company has an actual model in use, and that’s California-based Medbox Inc. – run by chiropractor Bruce Bedrick, ‘the Steve Jobs of medical marijuana dispensing.’
‘We’re the only patented game in town,’ Bedrick told The Huffington Post. ‘I’m not concerned necessarily about the competition, generally speaking.’ Medbox made $1.75 million last quarter. But there are other companies creeping up on his business model – and tailoring to the two states that have already legalized recreational marijuana. Phoenix-based Endexx Corp. has already bought up two smaller firms, CannCan and Dispense Labs and aims to distribute machines in legalized states.
Customers of Endexx’s machines wouldn’t be medical patients like Medbox’s users. They would be recreational users just wanting to pick up weed, and not deal with the hassle of the middle man. Users would be able to order an amount of marijuana from the machine’s app on their iPhone, and then go to a retail center to pick it up. At the machine, they would also be able to add rolling papers or a cigarette lighter to their order.
The machines could also be used to sell pre-packaged cannabis goodies, such as brownies or cookies.
‘The way we see it, when you walk into a shop, you don’t need the expert or aficionado to help with your selection,’ said Endexx’s CEO Todd Davis. ‘The people who are using this in the recreational space – they know what they want, and they don’t want to hear the whole spiel every time.’Davis has high hopes for this burgeoning industry: ‘It’s like a gold rush. Once significant investment capital comes to the market who knows?’ But Bedrick thinks that’s still a ways off – even in legalized states where selling weed in vending machines would need to get approval.
Slow and steady is how he sees the marijuana vending industry going: ‘Some people want to see this free-flowing marijuana. They want to go from federal and state ban to marijuana for everybody,’ Bedrick said. ‘We don’t believe that can happen. In order to gain respect and trust, it’s better to go through gradual, medical adoption.’ Another company, Tranzbyte Corp., announced in April that they would be entering the marijuana vending business as well. David Levine, who sold CannCan to Endexx, has been in the vending machine industry for almost a 10 years and has seen how quickly the industry has changed when it’s come to weed vending. ‘Back in 2009, you’d go to these conventions and you’d see people trying to unload 80 pounds of weed,’ Levine said. ‘Now, you’ll see people buttoned up and trying to figure out solutions for what’s a real industry.’
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