It is believed the first vending machine in history was invented in the first century C.E. by the ancient Greek engineer and mathematician Hero of Alexandria, in Egypt. When a coin of the proper weight was dropped inside, levers and weights dispensed a measured amount of holy water into the patron’s receptacle.
His invention will soon be dispensing a different kind of aromatic substance that many claim has curative powers too … marijuana.
More and more American states are reforming their law codes governing marijuana use and its possession. While some states such as Massechusettes, Connecticut, and others have already decriminalized the possession of small amounts, other states such as Colorado and Washington have gone further by recently voting to legalize its use outright.
In the middle of these reforms waits the soon-to-emerge marijuana vending machine, with a number of states readying themselves for its proliferation.
Marijuana Vending Machines Soon To Arrive
Needless to say, the dispensing of a substance which is still categorized as a “schedule 1 drug” will be expected to meet multiple control requirements. But already a number of states are hard at work re-writing their codes, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and California, plus the District of Columbia.
Massachusetts, for one, will require licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to grow the marijuana they dispense. The state will not permit operations whose sole purpose is growth and distribution of marijuana to venders on a wholesale basis, in order to exert greater control over the drug’s ultimate destination and use and to ensure the quality and safety of the product, which is to include a regular testing plan for pests, mildew, and pesticides.
The state will also require users of marijuana to be diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions, where “the physician has conducted a clinical visit, completed and documented a full assessment of the patient’s medical history and current medical condition, has explained the potential benefits and risks of marijuana use, and has a role in the ongoing care and treatment of the patient,” explains The Boston Herald.
Rhode Island has taken its state closer to making marijuana available through vending machines by recently decriminalizing possession of it. Amounts of one ounce or less will no longer be considered a misdemeanor criminal charge, but will incur a $150 fine instead. As a result of these changes, two dispensaries are expected to open in Rhode Island before the end of the year.
Three more marijuana dispensaries are expected to open this year in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. It was only recently, in 2010, that the district legalized the purchase of 2 ounces of the drug every 30 days for medicinal use by patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, or glaucoma.
The role of these vending machines, then, is not to make marijuana available to more people by somehow circumventing regulations controlling the substance. Rather, it is to facilitate the distribution of the drug to people who have already been deemed in medical need of it, while ensuring that existing regulations are upheld.
Delivery is already permitted by other means. Vending machine will merely be delivering it in a different way.
In order to uphold and comply with these regulations, vending machine makers are incorporating some very high-tech measures. There are fingerprint scans to verify the identity of the buyer. Software that looks up prescription authorization and doses. Armor plating to prevent break-ins. And secured doors to prevent ATM-style “rope-and-rip” thefts.
Not Plant Stalks but Company Stocks
If investors want to make money from marijuana, they still can’t buy and sell plant stalks. But they can buy and sell company stocks to potentially cultivate a return, especially with all the reforms now underway across the nation.
These companies can be divided into two main groups: the makers of marijuana dispensing machines and the companies that grow and dispense the drug itself.
The largest maker of marijuana vending machines is Medbox (OTC:MDBX), publicly traded since mid-2010. Still a young company, its stock price has recently gyrated to the extreme, with its 52-week range spreading from as low as 2.87 cents to as high as $215.00, and currently back down to the low $20’s. It is not for the faint of heart.
But it has something investors are always drawn to: patents. The company explains its unique machines on its website:
“Our Company features patented systems that dispense medication to individuals based on biometric identification (fingerprint sample). Our newly designed systems allow pharmacies, assisted living facilities, prisons, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and alternative medicine clinics to help manage employee possession of sensitive drugs. In a retail environment typical in most alternative medicine clinics, the system also allows these clinics to document that the user is a registered patient and that the patient has a valid and unexpired authorization from a physician to possess and use the medicine dispensed. Each transaction is tracked internally for accounting and compliance purposes.”
In addition to the manufacture and operation of its vending machines, Medbox Inc. “through its subsidiaries, offers turn-key consulting services to the pharmaceutical industry. The Company also provides consulting services to individuals and groups seeking to establish new clinics and facilities, often in jurisdictions that have recently passed legislation concerning the availability of alternative medicines as well as existing jurisdictions, nationwide,” its profile expounds.
On the marijuana growth and distribution side, there are a surprising number of publicly traded companies already thriving there. And the growing movement across the U.S. to legalize their main product is certain to cultivate a bumper crop of growing stock prices.
Growlife Inc. (OTC:PHOT) “makes and markets high end, progressive horticulture and lifestyle products”, as the company phrases it on its website. One of its subsidiaries, Cannibis.Org, “is an information portal for the medical marijuana industry hosted and developed by GrowLife, Inc.” “GrowLife’s acquisition of Cannabis.Org and its development plans are part and parcel of the continued development of GrowLife, Inc. as a lifestyle company to compliment its premier hydroponic equipment brands,” the company outlines.
Hemp, Inc. (OTC:HEMP), describes Yahoo! Finance, “focuses on supplying services, products, and information related to the medical marijuana industry or to those who have an affinity for the medical marijuana industry.” “Its products include nutraceutical products designed to improve concentration and joint flexibility, increase awareness and energy, and improve overall wellness, as well as to supply hemp and blue-green algae protein; and skin care products for men and women.”
Capital City Care is a health services provider that, although not publicly traded, does have investors backing its marijuana growing and distribution business in the Washington, D.C. area. As alternative investments go, you can’t get much more alternative than that.
The company’s mission, as explained on its website, is “to provide pharmaceutical grade medical marijuana preparations, holistic wellness services, and educational resources to qualified patients in the District of Columbia in strict compliance with the District's medical marijuana law.” “City officials carefully selected the most qualified groups to make medical marijuana available to qualified patients in the District. Capital City Care is honored to be among the groups chosen for this important responsibility.”
The company will soon make available four strains of medical marijuana from its 2,000 square-foot operation. One dispensary is slated to open this month, with two more opening shortly afterward.
To medical marijuana users, Hero of Alexandria from 2,000 years past has become a hero once again. His invention has come full circle, from dispensing one perfumed healing substance then to another aromatic curative substance now. And you can definitely see the appreciation in its users’ eyes.
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