Weed vending machines pop up in Colorado

Coloradans who are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic can now purchase marijuana through a contactless weed vending machine at certain dispensaries.

A company called Anna put up their weed vending machines this month at Strawberry Fields dispensary in Pueblo, Colo., and will put up more at Starbuds dispensary in Aurora, Colo. over the coming weeks.

The customer experience with Anna is akin to self-checkouts at grocery stores and pharmacies.

Shoppers can browse in-store using Anna’s touchscreen, and can also order online by scanning their QR code upon arrival at the dispensary. The new technology allows customers to check out within a minute and receive their cannabis products while also maintaining social distancing and staying safe during the ongoing pandemic.

“While the demand for this technology was around long before the pandemic, the presence of COVID-19 has certainly sped up the desire to adopt contactless payment into the dispensary process,” anna CEO Matt Frost told FOX Business. “Likewise, COVID-19 has exacerbated the long wait times often associated at dispensaries. anna allows customers who know what they want to pre-order and be in and out of the dispensary in under a minute, while freeing up budtenders to spend more time with customers who want that individualized experience.”

The new weed vending machines will add to an already thriving marijuana industry in Colorado, whose governor designated it a “critical” business at the outset of the pandemic.

Marijuana sales in May set an all-time record in Colorado with $149,186,615 total recreational sales, according to data released by the Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division. That record was shattered the next month in June when recreational sales totaled $158,102,628.

Shannon Gray, a spokesperson for the Department of Revenue, noted that this is part of a long-term trend, as Colorado has set new marijuana sales and tax revenue records each year for the last six years since Colorado legalized weed for recreational sales in 2014.

The state is on track to break the record again as it sold $978,350,185 worth of weed through the first half of 2020. The state saw $1,747,990,628 of sales in all of 2019.

More self-checkout weed vending machines by Anna are set to open in Massachusetts in September, with plans to expand to Nevada, California and Canada next year.

"We’re only a week into deployment, but we’re excited by the interest and curiosity we’ve seen so far, and we expect customers to quickly become accustomed to using the technology as time goes on," Frost said.

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