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Self-Service Pot? Marijuana Vending Machines Could Grow

DENVER (CBS4) - Just like soda machines spit out Coke by the can, automated pot-vending devices may be the future of self-service marijuana purchases.

"Why wait 10 minutes in line if you can walk right over?" Stephen Shearin, the president and COO of American Green, said.

He demonstrated the first-ever machine in Denver for CBS4 at the Doctors Orders dispensary: "They press to start, dip their ID. It sends a message out to the company -- legal age software we work with who checks against DMV and a national database to ensure that the ID is valid."

That software is the same some pharmacies use to verify identify. State regulation says the vending machines can only be used inside a dispensary, not a recreational shop. Customers whose age is verified at the front door must still use their ID to access the vending machine.

Pot Vending
(credit: CBS)

After the legalization of marijuana in 2012, pot has found its way more frequently into children's hands. Shearin and Chase Lessman, the general manager of Doctors Orders, say improving technology should assuage parents' fears.

"As we expand and ramp up, we'll also ramp up the inability for someone to pose as someone else," Lessman said.

Shearin said motion-sensitive technology, such as the nearly unique movements humans make with their hands, can help prevent children from using someone's ID to purchase pot.

Lessman said the vending machines could alleviate pot shops' crowding and long lines.

"We could have a line all the way to the door. We could have as many as 20 people in here waiting at one time," he said.

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