Saturday, February 02, 2008

Pot Vending Machines Crop Up In Los Angeles

Los Angeles is always on the cutting edge. The City of Angels is well-known throughout the world for leading the way in music, film, art and theatre. And now LA-LA Land is turning heads with its newest cultural innovation – a vending machine that dispenses pot.
This amazing city, the place that popularized the fast food drive-through, edible underpants, eight-headed vibrators (aka “The Hydra”), phone sex and microwave chimichungas-- has a new invention that will set the world of 420 on its noggin -- 24-hour medical-marijuana vending machines.
Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite, annoying in-laws, nosy neighbors and other ailments that marijuana is said to alleviate can now get their pot with a dose of convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will dole out the drug around the clock.
Inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh said the machine gives users convenience, low prices, safety and anonymity.
But federal drug agents say the invention may need unplugging and the people who own and fill such machines could be breaking laws.
"We have an open investigation [into these machines]," Jose Martinez, a special agent for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, told The Globe and Mail in a telephone interview from Los Angeles yesterday.
"We have to follow through and basically dot our i's and cross our t's and once we have completed our investigation we'll present the matter to a magistrate and if we have enough we'll get some seizure warrants."
U.S. federal law does not recognize the medical-marijuana laws in California and 11 other states. "Marijuana is illegal in the eyes of the federal government," Mr. Martinez said.
Two dispensaries in the city have installed vending machines to distribute the drug to people who carry cards authorizing marijuana use. A third is awaiting delivery of its machine.
The computerized machine requires fingerprint identification and a prepaid card with a magnetic stripe. Once the card and fingerprint are verified, a bright green envelope with the pot drops down a slot.
Mr. Mehdizadeh said it took seven months to develop and patent the black, armoured box, which he calls the PVM, or prescription vending machine.
Mr. Mehdizadeh said any user approved for medical marijuana and registered in a computer database at his dispensary can purchase the drug in advance and then use the machine to pick it up.
The process provides convenience and privacy for users who may otherwise feel uncomfortable about buying marijuana, Mr. Mehdizadeh said.
At the Timothy Leary Medical Dispensary in the San Fernando Valley, the vending machine is accessible only during business hours. An employee there said the machine was introduced about five months ago, and provides speedy service.
"It helps a lot of patients who are in a lot of pain and don't want to wait around to get help," Robert Schwartz said. "It's been working out great."
Mr. Mehdizadeh said he sought the advice of doctors and decided to limit the amount of marijuana dispensed to a user to one ounce a week. Each purchase from the machine yields one-eighth or one-quarter of an ounce. By eliminating a vendor behind the counter, he said, the machine offers users lower drug prices. The one-eighth-ounce packet would cost about $40 (U.S.) - $20 lower than the average price at other dispensaries.
The DEA and other federal agencies have been actively shutting down major medical-marijuana dispensaries throughout the state over the past two years and charging their operators.
Mr. Mehdizadeh said his centre was the target of a federal raid in December.
He said no arrests were made and no charges filed against him.


the fabulous monkey bitch said...

Yeah, baby! I am moving to LA today!

Refurbished and used Vending Machines said...

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