Weed vending machines debut in Colorado

By Alicia Wallace, CNN Business

    (CNN) -- You can now buy weed out of a vending machine at certain dispensaries in Colorado, America's oldest market for recreational cannabis.

A startup called Anna -- a play on the word "analytics" -- has begun deploying high-tech, self-checkout cannabis kiosks at select dispensaries in the state.

The machines can hold more than 2,000 products that include cannabis flower, edibles, infused beverages, balms and vape oils. The machines are ideal for the shopper who knows what they want and doesn't want to wait in potentially long lines, the company says.

Anna's arrival comes at a time when Covid-19 health protocols have limited consumers' abilities to shop in person as they had in the past. Cannabis retailers, which in many states were designated as essential businesses, have been able to offer online orders, curbside pickup and delivery, thanks to new pandemic-era rules.

Those designations and rule changes have kept sales flowing in the cannabis industry.

Sales of medical and recreational cannabis in Colorado set records in May and June, according to state revenue data. Through the first half of 2020, Colorado cannabis dispensaries sold $978 million of marijuana flower, edibles and concentrate products, up nearly 20% from last year.

While self-checkouts and interactive vending machines aren't particularly new in other industries, they're considered an innovative development for the heavily regulated cannabis sector.

Anna is debuting at two dispensaries in Colorado with plans to expand within the state and to other legal cannabis locales in the coming months, the company said, adding that CBD-only machines are in development as well.

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