Marijuana vending machines have long been a pipe-dream of cannabis smokers everywhere. Now, not only are they are finally becoming a reality for residents of Colorado, where recreational cannabis use is legal, but they will also be Bitcoin-friendly.
Unsurprisingly, the vending machines under the brand name of ZaZZZ where unveiled at an exclusive event in Colorado on April 12th. They are intended to be used as a secondary alternative to the dispensaries, which have been spraining up all over the state in recent years due to overwhelming demand.
Bitcoin accepted here
Since theThe ZaZZZ vending machines will not be behind a counter, they will have some innovative features that will ensure buyers are of the legal age including a driver’s license reader and a camera that captures buyers on video.
However, one of the most notable features of the machines will be that they accept Bitcoin along with the ZaZZZ card and cash. Stephen Shearin, American Green COO spoke about his company’s ZaZZZ machine in an interview with CoinDesk:
“Providing a payment facility that has a super-low cost to it, like bitcoin, is an effective way to provide these guys, dispensaries and dispensary owners, with a means of doing their business that is more efficient than other facilities that charge a higher fee.”
When asked why he chose to include the Bitcoin payment option, he said:
“It’s quick, it’s efficient, it’s trackable.”
These machines certainly provide several advantages over the more traditional method especially for people who want to quickly pay-and-go or who might be nervous about dealing with a bud tender.
Customers select their product of choice, after which they can choose to pay with Bitcoin. A screen on the machine will then display a QR code, which the buyer will scan with their smartphone. After the machine accepts the payment, the customer receives the product and the transaction is complete. “It’s exactly like using a bitcoin wallet to pay anywhere else,” said Stephen Shearin.
He also went on to explain the advantages of using Bitcoin from the business-owner’s perspective, who are always in search of improving their margins in light of regulatory costs and a 25% state tax:
“Providing a payment facility that has a super-low cost to it, like bitcoin, is an effective way to provide these guys – dispensaries and dispensary owners – with a means of doing their business that is more efficient than other facilities that charge a higher fee.”
Bitcoin has long been associated with the purchasing of marijuana (such as on Silk Road) due to its ability to circumvent the banking system. And despite the recent trend of legalization in Washington and Colorado as well as an increasing number of states legalizing marijuana for medicinal use, cannabis is still illegal on the federal level. Many businesses may still choose to approach with caution by opting for non-traditional payment systems.
Colorado legalized the recreational use of cannabis back in 2012 with the passing of Amendment 64. While medicinal marijuana dispensaries are nothing new in the state, recreational cannabis stores opened their doors to Colorado state-residents over the age of 21 on January 1st, 2014.
It is estimated that marijuana sales have topped $US 14 million in the first month. Those figures are expected to grow as the number of dispensaries grow with some estimating that the state of Colorado will rake up as much as $US 150 million dollars in taxes and fees, the first $US 40 million of which are earmarked towards school construction.
Cannabis tourism has been another rapidly growing industry in the state and it is estimated that the state could make anywhere from $US 100 million to $US 500 million as a result in the first year alone of newly legal weed.
Alternative payment systems such as Bitcoin will surely add to these figures and may prove to be the method of choice in the future for many cannabis business owners who are shunned by the banking system.
Mathew Slater: "Gimmick - cannabis and bitcoin are libertarian partners, so it makes sense as an ideological venture. Maybe the two can support each other; we'll see what the market thinks."