Aurora is now home to a vending machine for weed.
The robot inside Star Bud’s shop on Arapahoe Road is just the second device deployed by Anna, the company behind the idea. Founder Matt Frost, who splits his time between Colorado and Massachusetts, said he dreamt up the idea about three years ago, while he was waiting in line at his local dispensary and wondered: “Where’s the automation? I go to the grocery store and there’s self-serve.”
Frost said he became “passionate” about finding a new way for customers to buy stuff inside the country’s pot shops. Today, his company has built out 24 machines that he thinks might achieve this dream.
Let’s start with some basics.
The machines that sell cannabis products in Colorado must be physically located in a dispensary. They also must be manned by dispensary staffers who check customers’ IDs for a second time after they’ve walked onto the sales floor and approve any sale; budtenders do the same thing.
Each Anna machine can hold about 1,000 individual products. Star Buds is largely stocking theirs with house-branded products and a few top sellers made by other companies.
From the customer’s perspective, using a vending machine might mean fast-tracking the “traditional” dispensary experience. If they know what they want, they can skip discussing strains and products with dispensary employees, get their five-pack of joints and get going.
From the dispensary’s perspective, it’s an opportunity to squeeze one more register into regulated space. The Star Buds shop in Aurora, for instance, has pretty much maxed out the registers and bud tenders it can fit into its floor plan.
“To me it’s not a vending machine,” said Josh Riggs, Star Buds’ chief operating officer. “It’s an express point of sale. It’s one more opportunity to do