Pot vending machines installed in Vancouver
Chuck Varabioff of the BC Pain Society demonstrates the marijuana vending machine, in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday May 7, 2014. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Two marijuana vending machines — believed to be Canada’s first — have been installed in Vancouver.
One looks like a gumball machine, with small amounts of marijuana available in plastic containers that sell for $4 to $6 depending on the variety.
Charles Varabioff, director of the B.C. Pain Society, which houses and runs the machines, said it is “for people who want cheaper stuff, not necessarily quality.”
The other machine contains larger packages, which sell for between $10 and $50. Hash, and its oil and extracts, are also for sale in the machine.
Varabioff said that only those with a membership to the society — which requires a doctor’s prescription — are allowed to purchase marijuana from the machines. If interested parties don’t have a prescription, Varabioff said he can refer them to a doctor.
“If they consent that marijuana is an option for you, we’ll print you out a free ID card,” he said.
Police said they are aware of the drug machines.
“Whether it happens over the counter, in a dark alley or through a vending machine, the sale of marijuana is illegal. There is always a risk of arrest when someone engages in illegal activity,” said Vancouver Police Department spokesman Brian Montague in an email.
“The VPD will respond to any complaints and decide if further investigation or enforcement is required,” he said. “We have a priority-based approach to policing and, generally, this is a low priority. Not to say that it can't become a priority if public safety is a concern.”
Varabioff said his goal is to have more of these machines installed. He plans to add another one at the society and hopes machines like these will spread across the city.