Representing a significant shift in the way cannabis products are being normalized, weed vending machines—now capable of labeling and dispensing cannabis products in real time—are the new norm in Colorado.
Boulder, Colorado-based Terrapin has installed its first technology-forward vending machine ACE (Automated Cannabis Experience) at its Aurora Terrapin Care Station location. No need for a budtender or a human being, for that matter. Customers scan to verify their ID and confirm they are old enough, follow the instructions on the screen and pay.
But best of all: you get to watch the weed get bagged and live-labeled through a 38 x 30-inch window on the vending machine—a surreal experience for people coming from more restrictive states.
“Innovative solutions like ACE illustrate the increasingly mainstream nature of the cannabis space,” Terrapin CEO Chris Woods told 9News.
“ACE not only improves sales but also provides unique benefits to consumers, including faster checkouts, expanded education, and the ability to engage in multiple languages. As the cannabis industry evolves, companies must pivot to meet changing consumer preferences and demands. ACE offers a genuinely game-changing way for consumers to purchase cannabis.”
How much product can one machine hold? One ACE vending machine can hold up to 1,152 weed products (depending on the size of the packaging). It’s like its own little dispensary.
The Aurora location will serve as the guinea pig to determine how well the automated vending machine serves customers’ needs.
“We are happy to support innovation in business and appreciate Terrapin for choosing Aurora to implement this impressive equipment,” said Trevor Vaughn, manager of licensing for the city of Aurora. “Our highest priority is public safety and Terrapin acknowledges this with their implementation of this retail option by adding an automated layer of safeguards to human verification to ensure that only those legally allowed to consume cannabis are purchasing those products.”
It took time and effort to get the automated technology to where it is today, Robert Schwarzli, BMC Universal Technologies’ president, said.
Automated Weed Vending Machine Technology
Terrapin first unveiled the new automated machines ACE at MJBizCon 2022, where they teased the vending machine rollout in Aurora.
ACE can be programmed in multiple languages, improving inclusion. It can also improve the sales approach as ACE augments budtenders and frees them to take more time. Advantages include the human-less “triple check” to ensure only verified adults ages 21 and over can purchase cannabis. It also speeds up the transaction, the company says.
Developed in partnership with BMC Universal Technologies, it’s the first fully automated cannabis vending kiosk on the market to fully package, live-label and dispense cannabis products, according to a press release.
“As an established leader in the vending industry, we have the manufacturing design, automation and engineering expertise necessary to design and develop the vending machine of the future,” Robert Schwarzli, BMC Universal Technologies’ president said last November. “ACE is the first vending solution on the market that requires zero human assistance, truly transforming how people shop for cannabis products. While ACE is a first for the cannabis sector, we’ve brought dozens of other one-of-a-kind projects across myriad other industries to life—and are excited about the future of cannabis retail.”
The concept of zero human assistance is controversial–yet it’s what we’re seeing already with Amazon, McDonald’s, Taco Bell’s “Defy” restaurant, and across the board in the retail space.
Terrapin also has plans to roll out additional ACE machines at its Terrapin Care Station locations throughout Colorado. It’s a glimpse of what you might be seeing more of in the future.