Health & Medicine

You get your soda from a vending machine, so why not your medical marijuana?

This week marks a milestone for Canada. The country has installed its first-ever marijuana vending machine.

Player utilities

But before you run off and book flights to Vancouver, you'll need more than your credit card to access the new machine. Chuck Varabioff, of the British Columbia Pain Society told TV channel Global News you'll have to register to get access to the machine. Oh, and the pot it's dispensing is medical marijuana.

"If we had a card-swipe system (with just credit cards) then it's open for abuse," Varabioff said, "because anybody could give their card to anybody else to use. This way, you come in, you show the staff on duty your membership card and doctor's consent and then you have access to it."

The machine looks like any other snack vending machine, with those often frustrating delivery spirals. And it offers a variety of medical marijuana products, packaged in tamper-proof, sealed bags.

But critics say what's on the outside of those bags may be as much of a problem as what's inside. Lorinda Strang is from the Orchard Recovery Center, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Vancouver.

"I saw it on the news last night," she said, "and the first thing that I saw was a bag of marijuana called Cotton Candy and that deeply disturbed me. If medical marijuana wants to be taken seriously — this whole movement — then they need to stop naming the drugs after candy for children."

The pot vending machine holds several types of marijuana — including cotton candy — in amounts starting at an eighth of an ounce. Varabioff said he hopes there will soon be lots of the machines in the province.

"We want to get our vending machines into every medical clinic and retirement home in Vancouver who want one," he said.

Varabioff said feedback from members has been "incredible" since they installed the machine three weeks ago.

"Our regular members, they already know what they want, they can walk up straight up to the vending machine and get in and out quickly. They also know we're not recording any of their sales, and they're also happy with that," he said.

This isn't Canada — or Vancouver's — first foray into dispensing drugs from a machine. Last year, a Canadian nonprofit installed crack pipe vending machines in rehab centers as part of a plan to curb the spread of HIV and hepatitis among drug users.

But Drugs are not the only odd things being sold in vending machines around the world. The CBC looks at some of the other stuff you can buy.

Live hairy crabs anyone?

Comments