California Dispensary Uses ‘Virtual Budtender’ for Touch-Free Shopping

The Vallejo Holistic Health Center in Vallejo, California is employing a “virtual budtender” to fulfill customer orders while maintaining social distance; the process includes a 6-foot long pole with a basket attached.

Full story after the jump.

California’s Vallejo Holistic Health Center has rolled out a “virtual budtender” amid the coronavirus pandemic, KTVU reports. The system allows customers to order on an iPad, and communicate with staff via Skype, while a 6-foot long pole with an attached basket is used to collect the money and give the customer the order.

Ann Marie, a budtender at VHHC, said once the state implemented stay-at-home orders and implemented social distancing rules the dispensary started taking orders via curbside and nobody was allowed inside. She said that customers can still come inside the dispensary but have the option for contact-free shopping.

The dispensary started the system in an attempt to better serve customers on the 4/20 holiday. Ann Marie told KTVU that the shop often has a line that wraps around the building and they expected increased traffic on the holiday.

Throughout the U.S., states with stay-at-home orders have deemed cannabis dispensaries essential – except for Massachusetts, where Gov. Charlie Baker shut down recreational sales fearing they would draw people from out-of-state. Emergency pandemic rules for cannabis sales often include strict social distancing practices – such as limiting the number of customers in a store at one time – curbside pickup, and enhanced store sanitation.

Colorado, meanwhile, has allowed for online ordering and curbside pickup for the first time. Cannabis delivery companies throughout the U.S. have reported an uptick in business as most of the nation is ordered to stay at home.

Many virtual 4/20 events are also planned as large in-person gatherings have been shut down by states or organizers in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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