5 min read

Marijuana Vending Machines: All You Need To Know

October 5, 2021

Vending machines have been in use since the 1980s. One would say that they are not popular in the cannabis industry. But still, it is a good idea for a start-up. Especially if a person wants to start a cannabis business but doesn’t want to deal with dispensaries or delivery. Let’s talk about them a bit more.

What is Marijuana Vending Machine? Definition. 

There is no big difference between marijuana vending machines and usual vending machines which sell snacks, beverages, and other things. Instead, cannabis vending machines provide customers with cbd products. They sell a wide variety of flavors, textures, benefits, and other cannabis items.

marijuana vending machines, cannabis business, pros and cons

Why Should You Start a Cannabis Vending Machine Business? Advantages. 

Still, weed vending machines can boost sales up to 40%. The reason is they operate even when the shop is closed. Put a vending machine outside your dispensary and fill it up with cannabis products. It will operate 24/7 even without your assistance. Moreover, people who want to save their privacy when buying cbd products will likely use these cannabis vending machines. You can probably place it in a crowded area. However, it depends on the laws of your State. Don’t forget to check them out before starting a business.

What else are the benefits of vending machines? They are the following:

  • Customers don’t need to look for dispensaries when there are vending machines.
  • No more queues as vending machines give medical marijuana immediately after the payment. It hastens the process, and a customer doesn’t need to wait till a budtender finds the necessary item and serves them. The medical machine takes 3-5 minutes to make a transaction, while a customer can wait up to 45 minutes at the checkout. 
  • No more customers waiting for delivery as they pay for a product, grab and go. Buying a product online is convenient, but its delivery takes time. Some clients may need medical marijuana right now, which is when marijuana vending machines can help.
  • No more social contact, because there is no budtender and no queues. The payment process is automated. This is helpful for those who are afraid of falling ill with COVID-19 or want to save privacy.
  • Weed vending machines are easy to set up in a remote area where it is difficult to open a dispensary. But remember to check out the law first – where you can place such a facility and where you cannot. 
  • Marijuana vending machines can make the payment process easy, fast, and secure. They accept cash, cards, and sometimes even bitcoins. 
  • They also have ID verification.

What Should You Keep in Mind? Early Failings. 

The company EZ Weed created a vending machine with in-built fingerprint-reading technology to verify users. When the company interacted with legislators about their solution, the most popular question they asked was, “What if someone cuts off someone else’s finger and uses that?” And EZ Weed developed a technology to read veins pulsing under the fingertip. 

marijuana vending machines, cannabis business, pros and cons

Some rollouts of vending machines happened between 2012 and 2015. After that, most dispensaries stopped working with them as cannabis vending machines caused a lot of trouble. The following issues became clear: 

  • Weed vending machines took the same time for ID authentication as the budtenders did. So, waiting time remained the same;
  • Customers with no rule to buy cannabis products could scan the ID that didn’t belong to them, and machines didn’t detect a fake;
  • The in-built vending machine software didn’t connect to inventory systems, send reports to authorities, etc.;
  • The software often showed errors causing trouble for dispensary employees.

The biggest challenge was the customer authentication process. For example, EZ Weed also considered building in facial recognition or retina scanning. The problem was that nobody wanted to scan their eyes or face. 

Regulators worried about everything that could allow customers to ignore purchase limits and business owners – the track-and-trace software. However, top dispensaries likely continue placing vending machines at their stores because:

  • they don’t take too much space;
  • they have a screen that shows products inside;
  • they contain the most popular products. 

According to Matthew Forst, the CEO of anna producing anna weed vending machines, the biggest challenge is regulators. They worry that the vending machine owners will place them on every corner. The business owners need lawmakers to perceive vending machines as just any other retail facility. 

How to Start a Cannabis Vending Machine Business? Tips.

To start a business, estimate the possible investments and potential benefits. Investments may include not only buying a machine and products to sell but also:

  • making business compliant with the law;
  • paying rent for a place;
  • securing a machine with surveillance cameras;
  • paying for insurance.

The biggest purchase is still a vending machine itself. After estimating all the expenses, a business starter can then decide whether to buy it or rent. Make sure that a supplier can provide maintenance and technical support. Also, don’t forget to determine what features a vending machine should have. Decide from the customers’ point of view. If you were a customer, what features would help you to choose the product you want? 

marijuana vending machines, cannabis business, pros and cons

What are the other tips for opening a cannabis vending machine business? Here they are:

  • Be compliant with the law. Register a business with the state and get any necessary licenses and permits. If you have employees, you will need to obtain an Employee Identification Number. 
  • Of course, it is essential to choose a brand name to be memorized by clients. 
  • Choose the place to house a vending machine. Choose wisely by considering a location with high traffic, good visibility, and easy reach for customers.
  • Sign contracts with owners of the places where you have decided to place a cannabis vending machine. They will probably expect you to compensate for the power bills.
  • Decide what products to sell. Don’t forget to make sure they are certified and are in demand among customers. 
  • Be informed about new reports, tax filings, licenses, and other compliance requirements that may appear later. Failing to report all required information can result in fines and other punitive damages. 

When starting a business, it is pretty essential to consider all pros and cons. Keep in mind all of them and then decide whether to get involved in the cannabis industry. 

Some owners of marijuana vending machines stopped using them because of bad software that showed errors and slowed down the purchasing process. Just choose a machine wisely, considering all its functions and characteristics. But always be ready for pitfalls to appear.