There could soon be a new way to sell medical marijuana in San Diego.
A company called MedBox Inc. is hoping to sell up to 30 marijuana dispensing machines, if the city council relaxes current restrictions on medical marijuana.
But these machines are heavily protected, and customers won’t have access to them.
"This is not a vending machine,” said Bruce Bedrick with MedBox. “It sits behind the counter in dispensaries and pharmacies and is operated by employees and staff of the dispensary and or pharmacy.”
The company sells the $150,000 marijuana dispensing machines in other parts of the U.S. and around the world. They're programmed with detailed information about each patient, and the details of their doctor's prescription. A card-reader or fingerprint scanner confirms the patient's identity, and dispenses the drug to the clerk, who gives it to patient.
The machines can only be used inside a legal storefront, said Bedrick. Customers will go inside, use their card, but will not directly interact with the machine. Only the store clerk will operate the MedBox.
"Nothing replaces the patient-to-patient interaction and the overall well-being that happens in a collective," said Eugene Davidovich with San Diegans for Safe Access. "Folks can talk to other patients, have that interaction."
Mayor Bob Filner he has an open mind about medical marijuana, and has said patients who need the drug, should be able to buy it.
"When the Mayor said that he was going to kind of reverse the attack on dispensaries, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to help the community,” said Bedrick.
Twelve San Diego storefronts have placed a deposit for the machine with MedBox. The company says robberies and assaults will drop at dispensaries that use its machines thanks to its weight and protection.
“Not one of our clients has had any crime at their facility,” said Bedrick. “Our particular machine is roughly 800 pounds and it is armor plated."