CA: Latest in L.A.: Pot Vending Machine

—– Original Message —–
From: "Richard Lake" <rlake@mapinc.org>
To: <mmjlist@cannabismd.org>
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2008 8:14 AM
Subject: [mmjlist] US CA: Latest in L.A.: Pot Vending Machine

> Newshawk: Reformer’s Guide to Direct Democracy http://www.drugsense.org/caip#take
> Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jan 2008
> Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
> Page: A – 2
> Webpage: http://drugsense.org/url/LF7nCBJJ
> Copyright: 2008 The Associated Press
> Contact: letters@sfchronicle.com
> Website: http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/
> Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/388
> Author: Daisy Nguyen, Associated Press
> Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/topic/dispensaries
> Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/mmj.htm (Marijuana – Medicinal)
>
> LATEST IN L.A.: POT VENDING MACHINE
>
> Medical Marijuana Dispensary Offers Goods 24/7 – at a Discount
>
> The city that popularized the fast-food drive-thru has a new innovation:
> 24-hour medical marijuana vending machines.
>
> Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments
> that marijuana is said to alleviate can get their pot with a dose of
> convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will
> dole out the drug round the clock.
>
> "Convenient access, lower prices, safety, anonymity," inventor and owner
> Vincent Mehdizadeh said, extolling the benefits of the machine.
>
> But federal drug agents say the invention may need unplugging.
>
> "Somebody owns (it), it’s on a property and somebody fills it," said DEA
> Special Agent Jose Martinez. "Once we find out where it’s at, we’ll look
> into it and see if they’re violating laws."
>
> At least three dispensaries in the city, including two belonging to
> Mehdizadeh, have installed vending machines to distribute the drug to
> people who carry cards authorizing marijuana use.
>
> Mehdizadeh said he spent seven months developing and patenting the black,
> armored box, which he calls the "PVM," or prescription vending 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.
>
> Mehdizadeh says any user approved for medical marijuana and registered in
> a computer database at his dispensaries can prepurchase the drug, then use
> the machine to pick it up.
>
> 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."
>
> Mehdizadeh said he sought the advice of doctors, and decided to limit the
> amount of marijuana per user to an ounce per week. Each purchase from the
> machine yields one-eighth or one-fourth of an ounce. By eliminating a
> vendor behind the counter, he said, the machine offers users lower drug
> prices. The eighth-ounce packet would cost about $40 – $20 less than the
> average price at other dispensaries.
>
> Marijuana use is illegal under federal law, which does not recognize the
> medical marijuana laws in California and 11 other states.
>
> The Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal agencies have been actively
> shutting down major medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state
> over the last two years and charging their operators with felony
> distribution.
>
> Mehdizadeh said the Herbal Nutrition Center was the target of a federal
> raid in December. He said no arrests were made and no charges have been
> filed against him.
>
>
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