San Diego plans to make medical marijuana available to patients through the installation of vending machines at local dispensaries. Many of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries were shut down in 2011 and new ones re-opened or newly built will support patented vending machines from Medbox.
Medical marijuana advocates are still trying to get dispensaries to re-open after they were shut down in the wake of a federal crackdown. The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego shut most of them down due to zoning violations.
The Medbox machines are high-tech security machines, unlike machines that dispense snacks or DVDs.
Patients will be required to have a prepaid card and verify their fingerprint to gain access to the machine and browse for medication.Security doesn't appear to be a concern for the vending machine providers.
"It's armor-coated. Second, it's 800 pounds," said Dr.Bruce Bedrick, CEO of Medbox, as ABC10 News reports. Software built into the vending machines will confirm all prescriptions and dosage amounts.
Since the closing of many of San Diego's medical marijuana dispensaries, new policies have been put into place by San Diego's Mayor Bob Filner. The police department, city attorney's office and the Neighborhood Code Compliance Department were ordered by Finer to stop the crackdown.
Within the coming weeks, the San Diego Council will decide if it will issue permits for the dispensaries, with Filner's support. Throughout San Diego, vending machines will be available in as many as 30 newly built dispensaries. The vending machines are valued at $50,000.
"Our technology is not a vending machine that is sitting out on the street corner. This type of technology really helps regulate the industry," said Bedrick.
"I think the key is for patients to get their medicine safely and securely, and if this is a means for them to do that, then by all means, that's wonderful," said Eugene Davidovich, a medical marijuana advocate with Americans for Safe Access.
Bedrick said all 150 dispensaries that use the machine nationwide and in Canada were safe and free of crime for the past four years.