Get High Off Your Bitcoin Supply With This Legal Weed Vending Machine
Edibles aren't the only thing on offer. For the first time, you can buy different strains of bud with your Bitcoin, too.
1BTC could fetch you about half an ounce of premium medical weed at today's prices. Photo via Prensa 420/Flickr
If you're lucky enough to live in Seattle, you can now buy weed from a vending machine with your hard-earned Bitcoin. American Green, a well-known vendor in the legal medical marijuana business, brought its first ZaZZZ vending machine to the city last week.
While Bitcoin-capable ZaZZZ vending machines debuted in Colorado last year, they only sold edibles. Now you can buy actual bud with BTC.
Seattle's ZaZZZ machine is equipped to sell three to four strains of marijuana flower, various edibles and even a testing kit to verify the THC and CBD quality of your bounty. Pricing is dictated by the dispensary, and that varies by location. "$45 for an eighth [of an ounce] seems to be common in Seattle," said Stephen Shearin, American Green's president and chief operations officer.
"Because of the federal banking laws, we always felt Bitcoin was an outstanding means for people making payments," Shearin said over the phone. "We've been really excited to integrate it."
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Weed vending machines have been around for a while—last May, the B.C Pain Society launched the very first marijuana-dispensing unit in Vancouver on the iconic east side Commercial Drive, for example—but bitcoin payments are an American Green first. And in many ways, supporting Bitcoin is a matter of necessity. Banks and credit card companies aren't quite ready to embrace pot vending machines just yet.
American Green's machines are required to operate under strict federal and operational laws, too. Not only is it illegal to ship marijuana products over the state's borders, but American Green isn't allowed to stock their own machines or touch their products—that's done by the suppliers and dispensaries. While some states have legalized pot to a degree, American Green must first establish weed suppliers in those states. They have 14 ZaZZZ units that are Bitcoin-ready.
A vending machine might seem straightforward enough, but these ones have an impressive amount of technology built into them. "We've got them online, on a cellular network, and if that fails it defaults to a wifi-network," Shearin explained. ZaZZZ is also equipped with cameras to scan and verify buyers' identification and medical marijuana prescription cards.
"The vending machine has a touch display, so it's not like one you buy snacks from, where you buy a lollipop from C-5," said Shearin. "It's like shopping from Amazon, you add to cart then check out, so people better get what they order out of the machine."
While the majority of US states are still opposed to the legalization of marijuana, vending machines and legal dispensaries such as American Green's could indicate a shift in attitude towards prohibition. After all, there's big money to be had. A new report from GreenWave Advisors, a research firm dedicated to the emerging marijuana industry, found that legalizing weed in all states could equal to $35 billion a year in sales by 2020.