Only several weeks after Ottawa prohibited B.C.'s cannabis cottage industry, one of these dispensaries opened the country's first marijuana vending machine.
B.C. Pain Society is a marijuana dispensary and resource center which opened in February 2014 at 2908 Commercial Drive, saying it offers the first marijuana vending machine in Canada. The dispensary offers high quality medicinal marijuana sealed in bags and sold for $50 per half an ounce.
The company also offers a gumball marijuana vending machine where consumers can buy marijuana in a capsule. The machine has been selling marijuana for three weeks now, taking bills and even giving change. The vending machine holds different kinds of marijuana in amounts more than one eighth of an ounce. The machine only accepts cash and requires a card from the Society which can only be acquired after submitting a doctor's certification for a patient's need for marijuana.
Like different other marijuana products being sold at the Society's retail counter, the machines are only available to licensed medicinal marijuana users. The Society does not reveal where exactly its marijuana are sourced, saying it comes from Vancouver and not from drug traffickers. The Society also says that the indica go through an in-house inspection.
"Anyone could walk into our dispensary, but we have a 36 inch gate that you can't get by unless you show your ID card," the Society's Chuck Varabioff said. "What really sets us apart from every dispensary in town is our prices because we don't just care about money here. I've had a number of people who were sick and dying of cancer. It's nice to see that there's a product that at least allows them to be comfortable on their last days." The Society is also considering whether they will install a card swipe system on the machine in the future on not.
Health Canada said that B.C. Pain Society's business is illegal. The legislation effective April 1 states that Canada's only source for medicinal marijuana is a small network of certified growers by the agency doing it large-scale and for profit. There are ongoing legal challenges that have left some parts of the new federal rules in limbo. Vancouver authorities also said that they will not target the city's dispensaries provided that they are only selling to patients with medicinal marijuana permits.