Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

A new business venture in the budding marijuana sphere once again has entrepreneurs wondering whether pot has a place in the franchising and business opportunities industry.   Last month, medical marijuana dispensary, Seattle Caregivers, opened Washington state’s first marijuana vending machine.  The vending machine, called “ZaZZZ,” was created by Arizona-based American Green and is being described as “the first age-verifying, climate-controlled, self-service dispensary.”   Washington now joins Colorado as the two states where customers can buy cannabis the same way they buy a Snickers candy bar or can of soda.

The vending machines are temperature-controlled and have ID-scanners to verify a user’s identity, age and additional data before dispensing selected items. However, despite state of the art ID technology, all vending machines will be manned by an employee to check IDs initially before purchase.  American Green’s President, Stephen Shearin, said about 5 ZaZZZ vending machines are currently planned for Seattle and Washington state, with more slated for Colorado, California, Michigan, Rhode Island and Alaska, all among the 23 states where medical marijuana is legal.  Other companies, such as California’s Medbox Inc., provide marijuana vending machines as well.

The logical question for franchise practitioners is whether cannabis vending machines can be marketed as the next business opportunity?  For now, the answer is probably not.  The sole fact that each machine must be individually monitored by an employee will likely make the opportunity unappealing to potential purchasers.   On a related note, since these machines typically include edible marijuana products, it will be interesting to see how these vending machines comply with the new FDA menu labeling guidelines!