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Is Automation the Future of Cannabis Dispensing?

Before legal dispensaries existed in Oregon, I had to make my purchases from the unregulated market where options are limited and customer service is basically nonexistent.

Being able to walk into a fixed storefront that has set hours and choose from a buffet of cannabis products is an amazing thing that every consumer and patient should be able to legally do.

New technology is on the horizon that will make the purchasing process even easier.

There’s one major hiccup to the dispensary model that exists in most places where cannabis commerce is allowed to operate.

For those who have never visited a dispensary, it can prove to be a very time-consuming ordeal, especially on a busy day.

If I had to estimate it, from the time that I pull up to a dispensary until I finalize my purchase it takes anywhere from tens of minutes all the way up to an hour. I have family in Las Vegas that go to very popular dispensaries that tourists shop at, and they have told me that their purchasing experiences take well longer than an hour from start to finish.

Part of what takes so long is waiting in line, however, at the heart of the issue is how inefficient the storage and retrieval of cannabis products is at virtually every dispensary. To be clear, I am not talking about the decision-making process.

I am referring to after the decision is made regarding what to purchase, how long it takes for a budtender to compile everything, and if it’s flower having to weigh it out and package it all. If it’s a product that isn’t in the display case and the budtender needs to go to the back to a secure area to retrieve something, that just makes things take even longer.

Not only does all of that take a long time, speaking from personal experience, it is kind of awkward standing there at the register in silence waiting for what was purchased to be handed to me.

It’s definitely better than living under prohibition, however, there is clearly plenty of room to boost efficiency when it comes to storing and retreiving cannabis products.

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With that in mind, I am really impressed by a new invention that is debuting at the International Cannabis Business Conference this week in Berlin, Germany.

The Cannastore is the first automated dispensing system specifically designed for cannabis products and is sure to revolutionize the cannabis dispensing process.

The hardware system in its standard design is already used in several thousand German pharmacies. However, this new version is even more impressive.

The Cannastore was tested and developed over two years, and is capable of dispensing products within 6 to 12 seconds.

That works out to 500 units in an hour. The Cannastore can hold up to 40,000 units before needing to be restocked.

The timing of the Cannastore’s debut is in itself very significant given the current political and industry context in Germany.

It is no secret that Germany is going to launch an adult-use cannabis industry in the near future, and whether that is this year or next year one thing is for sure – once sales do launch a lot of people are going to be purchasing cannabis in Germany, and being able to serve up cannabis in as efficient of a way as possible is vital to helping prevent bottlenecks at the point of purchase.

Cannastore is not only going to help customers’ purchasing experiences, but it is also going to directly contribute to helping Germany’s cannabis industry reach its full potential and the significance of that cannot be overstated.

This article first appeared on and is syndicated here with special permission.


  • Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference and has blogged about cannabis since January 2010.

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