Biometrics help secure Calif.'s marijuana vending machines

Jan. 28, 2008
Unique 'medical marijuana' program requires on-site guards, biometric verification

CALIFORNIA'S first marijuana vending machines open today.

The machines can be used by patients who are prescribed marijuana for health reasons.

Patients have to present a prescription and be fingerprinted before they are issued with a pre-paid credit card that stores the dosage and type of drug prescribed.

They can then use the card to access the Anytime Vending Machines whenever they need extra supplies.

Vince Mehdizadeh, owner of the Herbal Nutrition Centre in Los Angeles, where one of the first machines is based, said patients could get access to prescribed drugs after hours.

"They'll be greeted by a security guard right there. They'll slide the card in and they'll fingerprint in to verify that it's them,'' he said.

"A camera takes a picture of them, verifying that they're actually at the machine. And they get the medicine and they move on.''

Owners believe that the AVMs could eventually become as common as vending machines for soft drinks or confectionery and that they could also be used to dispense other prescription drugs such as antidepressants or Viagra.