The Autospense vending machine by a Californian company Dispense Labs LLC is designed to allow easy access to medical marijuana for those who need it, while keeping it safely out of reach of those who merely want it. This machine is far more sophisticated than your average snack dispenser though - locks, cameras, sensors and proprietary software all add up to a high-security turnkey solution for dispensing, tracking and managing medical marijuana.
First of all, it’s members only, as you need to register with a particular dispenser. With your registration card, you can make your way through the security vending cage. However, swiping the card is not enough - you also have to enter your PIN number and have your fingerprints scanned. Once you’re done with security, you can finally make your purchase, the old school way, i.e. by selecting the right item on a touch screen and making a payment (cash, credit or debit card).
Surveillance cameras and sensors obviously make tampering with the machine very difficult, but they also provide important data that can be presented to concerned authorities at any time. Not only does the machine know who goes in and who goes out, but it also takes care of stocktaking and purchase tracking. Company founder and CEO Joe DeRobbio hopes that these security measures, coupled with a registration-only scheme and a high level of security, will convince lawmakers that medical marijuana can be dispensed in a safe and organized way.
“Autospense, a stand-alone machine embedded with a customized software solution, aims to become the model for government compliance and will bridge the gap between storeowners and governmental agencies with its accurate tracking and management of medical marijuana,” says DeRobbio. “In addition to improving financial accountability and security for storeowners and patients alike, Autospense addresses issues at the state and federal level with 24/7 tracking and electronic reporting capabilities.”
Although legal in California since 1996, the use of medical marijuana remains banned under the provisions of federal laws. The Supreme Court ruled that those restrictions may also be enforced in states allowing medical marijuana, so the legal ground is rather shaky.
Currently there is one Autospense vending machine operating at The Dispensary Store in Santa Ana, Orange County.