Weed Vending Machine Arrives in Colorado

Stephen Andrews
27 Feb 2023

Automation is becoming the new norm in every sector everywhere you look, and cannabis seems to be no exception. A vending machine that can label and pack weed unattended by human personnel has just debuted in Colorado. It's basically a digital weed kiosk that contains sufficient amounts of cannabis, you can submit your ID information on it, and the machine will guide you to complete the purchase.

Automating the sales of weed is a game-changing concept for how consumers can make green purchases in the near future. It sounds like a great option for those who know what they want and don't need a budtender's assistance. You go straight to the machine, select the product you like, make the payment, and checkout in a few minutes. As easy as that. 

The first such vending machine has already arrived on the market. You can find it in Boulder, Colorado. The Colorado-based company Terrapin has it installed at an Aurora store location. The vending machine is called the ACE, short for Automated Cannabis Experience. 

This automated cannabis machine replaces a budtender, enabling customers the option to scan and verify their IDs and to confirm they are of legal age so that they can make a cannabis purchase. As the machine leads you through the process, you also get to watch the weed live-bagged and labeled through a small observation window. Which is certainly something fun to watch. 

"Innovative solutions like ACE illustrate the increasingly mainstream nature of the cannabis space," Terrapin CEO Chris Woods told 9News. 

"ACE not only improves sales but also provides unique benefits to consumers, including faster checkouts, expanded education, and the ability to engage in multiple languages," he said. "As the cannabis industry evolves, companies must pivot to meet changing consumer preferences and demands." 

Depending on the packaging size, a single ACE vending unit can hold over 1,000 weed products. A true digital store that can sell weed. 

"We are happy to support innovation in business and appreciate Terrapin for choosing Aurora to implement this impressive equipment," said Trevor Vaughn, the licensing manager behind the initiative. "Our highest priority is public safety and Terrapin acknowledges this with their implementation of this retail option by adding an automated layer of safeguards to human verification to ensure that only those legally allowed to consume cannabis are purchasing those products." 

The company, which is also present in Pennsylvania, initially announced the launch of ACE at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas last year. In a follow-up press release, it described ACE as the "first-of-its-kind cannabis digital vending kiosk that provides a fully automated experience without the need of human administration."

The vending machine saves time on mundane tasks and allows budtenders to engage in other more meaningful work such as more time to explain the types of weed products to new customers. The ACE also performs a "triple" check to make sure only those eligible to purchase weed are able to do so. For "regulars," the machine has faster checkout options. It was developed together with BMC Universal Technologies, a leader in the bulk vending sector. 

Should the pivot is successful at the Aurora spot in Boulder, we can probably anticipate more dispensaries considering to implement an ACE or a similar machine in the future.

And whether you wonder if the concept of weed self-serving is genuinely ground-breaking, well it turns out probably not that much. If we only remember the Michigan man who faced charges last year after police busted his property and found a homemade vending machine that earned him $2000 a day. At least, that speaks of the sheer potential of these machines to bring vast amounts of cash to anyone who owns them. 

Stephen Andrews