Both bitcoin and cannabis history was made in Seattle as the first vending machines to dispense marijuana debuted Tuesday.
The machines, called ZaZZZ, whose first debut in Colorado was reported by Cointelegraph back in April, 2014, are now being installed in medical marijuana dispensaries in Seattle, Washington. The units accept bitcoin by displaying a QR-code on its native touchscreen and are manufactured by American Green, a company which became the first publicly traded medical marijuana dispensary brand in the world, back in 2009.
President of American Green, Stephen Shearin, stated:
“This is an exciting time in Seattle’s cannabis community, and is representative of what can happen anywhere — laws permitting. ZaZZZ will simplify, track, and expedite the process in which marijuana users purchase their favorite products.”
The machine is compliant with the state law and “helps to verify customer’s age and identity since medical marijuana cards are required to enter the centers,” said company spokesman, Greg Patrick. As an additional security precaution, someone from the staff will attend to the machine and double check IDs prior to purchase.
The ZaZZZ has a touchscreen where buyers can place orders, play video games, and read medical information about the products. Medical cannabis IDs or state driver’s licenses are scanned by the machine to verify the age and whether they can legally purchase the goods. The unit is also temperature controlled to keep its contents fresh.
But unlike the ZaZZZ machines that were seen last year in Colorado, which only sold edibles or cannabis-infused foods, these units will actually dispense the plant’s flower buds that many commonly associate with smoking pot.
“It’s historic, there’s just no other way to state it.” Patrick said. “We saw the repeal of prohibition in the early 21st century and the mark that made on our country and the companies that did it right.”
But the illegal status of cannabis at the federal level has caused a few problems for the nascent industry. First, American Green must only work with local state growers instead of their sources in Tempe, Arizona-based where the company is based since it cannot ship the product across state lines.
Second, the blossoming industry has been largely shunned by major banks and cannot allow debit or credit cards to be used for transactions leaving customers with only two options: cash or bitcoin. And due to the problems associated with holding large amounts of cash, cannabis-related businesses may find Bitcoin to be the better and more secure alternative.
With the ZaZZZ, paying for cannabis with Bitcoin is straightforward and requires just a few simple steps:
- Select the “green” product and proceed to the payment stage;
- Choose the Bitcoin payment option to bring up the QR code;
- Scan the code with your smartphone to transfer funds from your Bitcoin wallet.
Similar to vending machines that dispense snacks or drinks, ZaZZZ intends to speed up the distribution for those who don’t want to wait in a line at the dispensary. “Once you swipe your ID, you can go shopping on the screen,” Patrick said. “You can be in and out literally in a matter of minutes.”
The company also stated that the machine, which doesn’t have a glass window that could be broken into, is secure against potential break-ins. “That machine is like a miniature little Fort Knox,” added Patrick.
The states of Washington and Colorado legalized the recreational use of cannabis back in 2012 with Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia approving similar initiatives late last year. With marijuana acceptance and awareness expected to increase, the company hopes to bring the Bitcoin-friendly ZaZZZ to other venues outside medical cannabis dispensaries in the future.
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