History of Cannabis Vending Machines

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The history of cannabis vending machines is relatively new, since the legislation has only recently allowed the real development of the “green economy” across Europe, and just a few years, in the United States. Nevertheless, cannabis vending machines are a niche product in a larger, more pervasive and ubiquitous market of a business tool that has been around for many decades, allowing those who adopted it to maximize their sales, serve new customers and expand their business horizons by setting up a 24H 7/7 storefront that doesn’t need the actual shop to be open: the automatic vending machine.

Originally created to distribute drinks and snacks practically everywhere, from city streets and malls to airports, hospitals and schools, the major share of the worldwide market and adoption of automatic vending machines still goes to the snack and drink sector. And then of course everything else. Think pharmacy’s off the shelf products; classic, a condom vending machine, but also first aid product and over the counter best sellers i.e. cough candies, migraine pills and more. But also think at automatic gas and fuel stations, cigarette vending machines, book and newspaper vending machines, more and more popular especially in travel locations such as railway and metro stations, airports and highway gas stations. Or, as a further example, the machines that sells soap, conditioner and laundry bags at automatic, coin operated, washing machines, usually called launderettes.

The list of vending machines goes a long way, also according to Wikipedia, that enlists in the automatic vending machine “family” and under “common vending machines” also coin change machines, bulk candy and gumball vending, which is very popular in the United States, stamp vending machines, lottery and prize vending machines, and also unexpectedly also photo booths, pizza and french fries vending machines, fresh squeezed orange juice vending machines, and even life insurance, automobile and bait vending machines! Not mentioned by Wikipedia, today there are even fully automatic shop areas and even specialized niche markets such as the erotic shops selling all sort of sex paraphernalia in fully automatized vending machine shops that work behind close doors with full video survelliance, allowing only 18+ to access, after ID scan and verification at the main door.

With great pleasure we just realized that the Wikipedia has also granted the cannabis vending machines (or marijuana vending machine) a spot in the 11-list of specialized vending machines. At the same time, we were a bit disappointed with the poor description and total lack of details and not even mentioning the European market, so we decided to contribute to Wikipedia by adding more updated information. So you can now say that the Harvin blog is definitely more updated than Wikipedia, when it comes to cannabis vending machines! Sorry, marijuana vending machines, of course… =)

Besides the note we just shared on Wikipedia, last year we published an article for Harvin’s Italian blog, talking about a more general “history of vending machines” that didn’t included at that time the cannabis vending machines, as the italian market was not ready yet, and Harvin still did not enter the arena of cannabis vending machine sale and distribution. We would like to share that content also here, translated of course into English. So here it is.

The history of the cigarette dispenser begins a long time ago, and the original vending machines were made up of purely mechanical boxes with no more than 3-4 selections.

The forerunners of this development were US companies in the distant 40s who built vending machines that were very simple but equally effective interaction: just inserting a quarter, pulling a lever and then taking the package.

The cigarette distributors in the 50s and 60s increased the number of selections and we see the first ones appear also in Europe, we find them in the smoky bars of the cities, in gas stations and in cinema halls around Europe that had not yet adopted anti-smoking policies. They begin to be positioned outdoors, hung from a railing or placed near tobacco shops. Small and compact cigarette dispensers even in these years were only mechanical.

We have to wait for the 70s and 80s to see the first electromechanical cigarette distributors appear, which introduced a revolution in those years. The technology was still primitive, if we consider the giant steps made in the last 30 years by electronics, however it was possible to “read” a coin automatically with an electric device, the drive was still rudimentary, but a motor pushed the package of cigarettes at the exit.

The innovation of the 90s take saw (at least in Italy) the widespread of the cigarette distributors in Italian tobacconists’ shops. The first cigarette vending machines were imported by companies that, by reading the needs of the market, began distributing these devices throughout Italy; it was a huge commercial success, because they were highly appreciated by customers and also by tobacconists.

The interesting aspect of these cigarette dispensers is the banknote readers specifically designed to read Italian Liras note bills. They could read 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 Liras and return the change in coins with primordial but efficient coin validators. Certainly they did not lack performance limits with unacceptable percentages of recognition of the banknotes today.

The 2000s arrive and the first European Directives arrives, with a limit for cigarette distributors to work only in the evening and at night, to prevent or at least limit access to minors. The directive in Italy is issued by the State Monopolies which, however, has no luck and long life. At the end of the 2000s the possibility of recognizing the customer with a reading device applied to the cigarette dispenser is introduced, which allows to limit access to over 18 years.

At this stage the cigarette distributors make a technological leap forward compared to traditional vending machines that remain one step behind. Then, in the last 5 years, touchscreen cigarettes distributors have arrived which allow very advanced functions, connected to the internet, to provide services and games. Lit up all over the front with bright colors, the cigarette dispensers find their natural location not only in tobacconists, but also in shops, pharmacies and in many places where they can dispense various kinds of products.

In 2020 Harvin will celebrate 25 years in the business of sales and distribution of cigarette dispensers and tobacco vending machines. Out of the experience developed with vending machines over 25 years, today Harvin has started several dedicated divisions to sell and distribute also vending machines that distribute e-cigarettes, lotteries, food and drinks and of course also cannabis vending machines. Rapidly expanding across Europe, Harvin’s cannabis vending machines have become widely diffused in Southern-Central Europe, especially in German speaking countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

If you are planning to expand your business horizons with the installation of one or more cannabis vending machines in your shop or business location, we invite you to contact our team, and we will be happy to answer all your questions, and to suggest out of our experience which cannabis vending machine or combination of solutions out of the full line of Harvin cannabis vending machines can be the perfect solution for your business goals and location.

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