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Colorado Gets First Pot Vending Machine

Colorado Gets First Pot Vending Machine


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Marijuana vending machine unveiled on restaurant patio

Colorado now has a bright green vending machine dispensing marijuana edibles.

Yesterday afternoon in Avon, Colo., the outdoor patio of Montana’s Smokehouse hosted the dramatic unveiling of Colorado’s first-ever marijuana vending machine. Much excitement ensued.

According to Gawker, the bright green ZaZZZ vending machine will dispense marijuana-enhanced snacks to self-service customers, provided they have valid medical marijuana cards. The machine will scan the medical marijuana cards and check for a valid form of ID before dispensing anything, but if a customer’s credentials are in order they can just come up and serve themselves.

Stephen Shearin, founder of American Green, the company behind the ZaZZZ machines, said the vending machine option would be “great for shy folk.”

California already has marijuana vending machines, but they are all located behind the counters at medical dispensaries and can only be operated by counter staff. The ZaZZZ machine is self-service, so customers can make purchases without having to talk to anyone.

The first ZaZZZ machine will be installed at Colorado’s Herbal Elements dispensary, which only services medical customers. Shearin says the vending machines won’t be put into public use until the company is confident they have met all necessary regulations.


Amid marijuana safety concerns, Colorado unveils pot vending machines

LITTLETON, Colo. — In the posh resorts of Vail Valley, where celebrities are as common as the paparazzi who stalk them, a machine has suddenly stolen the limelight.

Meet Zazzz, thought to be the nation’s first identity-verifying marijuana vending machine. Unveiled at an invitation-only party in Avon, Colo., last weekend, it has become another first in a state that has seen its share since recreational marijuana was legalized.

At first glance the lime green contraption looks like any that might spit out soft drinks or Cheetos, only this one comes equipped with state-of-the-art technology to check a user’s identity and can dispense a full array of marijuana products, including edibles and pre-rolled joints.

But even as this quirky sensation was making its debut, in other parts of the state Colorado continued to grapple with growing concern over the danger associated with misguided marijuana use and the ease with which products were falling into underage or unsuspecting hands.

On Monday night, a 44-year-old Denver wife and mother was shot and killed as she pleaded on the phone with police dispatchers to send help. She said her husband was becoming increasingly violent, suffering from hallucinations and may have consumed edible marijuana, police said.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Richard Kirk’s possible pot use was part of the homicide investigation.

Kristine Kirk’s death comes one month after a Wyoming college student jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after eating an unknown amount of a marijuana cookie. On April 2, the Denver coroner’s office ruled that marijuana use was linked to his death.

“This is all happening so quickly we can’t keep up with it,” said Rep. Frank McNulty, a Republican lawmaker in Colorado’s General Assembly. He said Wednesday that in testimony in committee, as well as in media reports, there have been almost daily incidents of children ingesting marijuana resembling candy or cookies, with some kids ending up in the hospital.

McNulty and Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer of Boulder have joined together to back a bill to standardize the potency so that one ounce of a marijuana leaf product is the same as an edible or other type. The lawmakers are also pushing a measure that would require that any candy that contained marijuana be distinguishable from normal candies, either in shape, color or size.

Edibles have recently come under intense scrutiny following the Wyoming student’s death, considered by authorities to be the first marijuana-related death since recreational use was legalized.

By law, such products can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per serving, but often consumers don’t pay attention to serving sizes. One large brownie can contain up to 10 servings, or 100 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Dr. Paula Riggs, a psychology professor and director of the division of substance dependence at the University of Colorado-Denver, says smoking marijuana hits the central nervous system quickly. But edible marijuana has a delayed reaction, so people often keep eating, looking for a buzz.

“A half-hour later they are on their back,” she told The Times this month.

Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer, who serves as president of the Colorado Assn. of Chiefs of Police, said he and other law enforcement officials were watching the vending machine rollout along with all of the other firsts in the state. “We would want to make sure the state regulates them just as strongly as they do any other dispensary,” he said, adding that he wants assurances systems are in place in the machines so no one under 21 can use them.

He finds irony that the celebration to introduce Zazzz occurred in his little town, where neither medical nor recreational marijuana is legal. The law Colorado passed allows towns and cities to keep marijuana illegal if they choose.

Ticer said one of his first orders of business was to make sure the vending machine was empty.

McNulty, who represents the Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch, said Wednesday he was hopeful that the new machines, with their enhanced identity verification, could actually help combat underage use.

“As long as they stay in medical or retail establishments, it’s probably OK. But as soon as they start moving outside, that’s when the danger begins,” he said, recalling a time when minors easily could buy cigarettes from vending machines when no one was watching.

“That was 20th century stuff,” countered Stephen Shearin, chief operating officer for Tranzbyte, the Tempe, Ariz., technology company that developed the vending machine through its American Green division. “This is 21st century.”

He said the first Zazzz machine would be located inside a medical marijuana dispensary in Eagle County near Vail. Consumers will have to give proof of age and identity to enter the store, and the vending machine’s technology will offer a second layer of protection.

It is expected to be up and running in a few weeks once regulations are finalized. Shearin said there were already two pending orders for additional machines — one in Colorado and one in an undisclosed location on the East Coast — with a lot of interest pouring in for others. He said his company could make up to 17 per week.

Users can buy their product of choice out of the vending machine with cash, Bitcoin or a special Zazzz card. Traditional credit cards cannot be accepted because of banking and commerce laws. Under federal law, the purchase of marijuana is still prohibited.

Shearin said he was well aware of the controversies surrounding marijuana use that are surfacing in the state and wants to work with law enforcement to make sure his product is not abused.

“I’ve got a 12-year-old daughter,” he said. “I’m very respectful of all of the issues.”

Times staff writer Paresh Dave in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Marijuana vending machine coming to Colorado

Buying marijuana in Colorado became a whole lot easier this past year when the state legalized the drug for recreational use.

It's about to get even easier, like buying a can of soda or pack of gum-at least in select locations.

Last week, a marijuana vending machine called "ZaZZZ" made headlines after Tranzbyte (OTCPK:ERBB) unit American Green unveiled the automated dispensary. American Green plans to place the machine in a medical marijuana dispensary in Eagle-Vail, Colo.

The machine, which uses an advanced ID-scanner to verify age and identity, should begin selling to the public in three to four weeks, the chief operating officer of Tranzbyte told CNBC on Monday.

"We looked at the market, and realized that the American people have voted," Tranzbyte COO Stephen Shearin said on " Squawk on the Street ." "It's legal, and as it comes out of the shadows and into the light, they should have the same efficiencies that you find in a grocery store or . or somewhere else."

Read More 'We're not Amsterdam': Is Colorado pot tourism a myth?

Don't expect to see pot vending machines pop up at supermarkets, however. American Green's vending machine can only operate inside marijuana dispensaries, Shearin said.

Shoppers must also pass a two-pronged security test. Buyers must display identification at the door and swipe their ID card through the machine. It's the same kind of technology that pharmacies use, he said.

"If there's any doubt, no cannabis comes out," Shearin said. "We send you back to the counter."

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China Braces for $1.3 Trillion Maturity Wall as Defaults Surge

(Bloomberg) -- Even by the standards of a record-breaking global credit binge, China’s corporate bond tab stands out: $1.3 trillion of domestic debt payable in the next 12 months.That’s 30% more than what U.S. companies owe, 63% more than in all of Europe and enough money to buy Tesla Inc. twice over. What’s more, it’s all coming due at a time when Chinese borrowers are defaulting on onshore debt at an unprecedented pace.The combination has investors bracing for another turbulent stretch for the world’s second-largest credit market. It’s also underscoring the challenge for Chinese authorities as they work toward two conflicting goals: reducing moral hazard by allowing more defaults, and turning the domestic bond market into a more reliable source of long-term funding.While average corporate bond maturities have increased in the U.S., Europe and Japan in recent years, they’re getting shorter in China as defaults prompt investors to reduce risk. Domestic Chinese bonds issued in the first quarter had an average tenor of 3.02 years, down from 3.22 years for all of last year and on course for the shortest annual average since Fitch Ratings began compiling the data in 2016.“As credit risk increases, everyone wants to limit their exposure by investing in shorter maturities only,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Bank NV. “Issuers also want to sell shorter-dated bonds because as defaults rise, longer-dated bonds have even higher borrowing costs.”The move toward shorter maturities has coincided with a Chinese government campaign to instill more discipline in local credit markets, which have long been underpinned by implicit state guarantees. Investors are increasingly rethinking the widely held assumption that authorities will backstop big borrowers amid a string of missed payments by state-owned companies and a selloff in bonds issued by China Huarong Asset Management Co.The country’s onshore defaults have swelled from negligible levels in 2016 to exceed 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) for four straight years. That milestone was reached again last month, putting defaults on track for another record annual high.The resulting preference for shorter-dated bonds has exacerbated one of China’s structural challenges: a dearth of long-term institutional money. Even before authorities began allowing more defaults, short-term investments including banks’ wealth management products played an outsized role.Social security funds and insurance firms are the main providers of long-term funding in China, but their presence in the bond market is limited, said Wu Zhaoyin, chief strategist at AVIC Trust Co., a financial firm. “It’s difficult to sell long-dated bonds in China because there is a lack of long-term capital,” Wu said.Chinese authorities have been taking steps to attract long-term investors, including foreign pension funds and university endowments. The government has in recent years scrapped some investment quotas and dismantled foreign ownership limits for life insurers, brokerages and fund managers.But even if those efforts gain traction, it’s not clear Chinese companies will embrace longer maturities. Many prefer selling short-dated bonds because they lack long-term capital management plans, according to Shen Meng, director at Chanson & Co., a Beijing-based boutique investment bank. That applies even for state-owned enterprises, whose senior managers typically get reshuffled by the government every three to five years, Shen said.The upshot is that China’s domestic credit market faces a near constant cycle of refinancing and repayment risk, which threatens to exacerbate volatility as defaults rise. A similar dynamic is also playing out in the offshore market, where maturities total $167 billion over the next 12 months.For ING’s Pang, the cycle is unlikely to change anytime soon. “It may last for another decade in China,” she said.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Summers Says Crypto Has Chance of Becoming ‘Digital Gold’

(Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said cryptocurrencies could stay a feature of global markets as something akin to “digital gold,” even if their importance in economies will remain limited.Speaking at the end of a week in which Bitcoin whipsawed, Summers told Bloomberg Television’s “Wall Street Week” with David Westin that cryptocurrencies offered an alternative to gold for those seeking an asset “separate and apart from the day-to-day workings of governments.”“Gold has been a primary asset of that kind for a long time,” said Summers, a paid contributor to Bloomberg. “Crypto has a chance of becoming an agreed form that people who are looking for safety hold wealth in. My guess is that crypto is here to stay, and probably here to stay as a kind of digital gold.”If cryptocurrencies became even a third of the total value of gold, Summers said that would be a “substantial appreciation from current levels” and that means there’s a “good prospect that crypto will be part of the system for quite a while to come.”Comparing Bitcoin to the yellow metal is common in the crypto community, with various estimates as to whether and how quickly their total market values might equalize.Yassine Elmandjra, crypto analyst at Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management LLC, said earlier this month that if gold is assumed to have a market cap of around $10 trillion, “it’s not out of the question that Bitcoin will reach gold parity in the next five years.” With Bitcoin’s market cap around $700 billion, that could mean price appreciation of around 14-fold or more.But Summers said cryptocurrencies do not matter to the overall economy and were unlikely to ever serve as a majority of payments.Summers is on the board of directors of Square Inc. The company said this month that sales in the first quarter more than tripled, driven by skyrocketing Bitcoin purchases through the company’s Cash App.Summers’ comments were echoed by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, who doubted crypto’s value as a medium of exchange or stable purchasing power, but said some forms of it may continue to exist as an alternative to gold.“Are cryptocurrencies headed for a crash sometime soon? Not necessarily,” Krugman wrote in the New York Times. “One fact that gives even crypto skeptics like me pause is the durability of gold as a highly valued asset.”Summers also said that President Joe Biden’s administration is heading in the “right direction” by asking companies to pay more tax. He argued policy makers in the past had not been guilty of pursuing “too much antitrust” regulation although he warned it would be “badly wrong” to go after companies just because of increasing market share and profits.Returning to his worry that the U.S. economy risks overheating, Summers said the Federal Reserve should be more aware of the inflationary threat.“I don’t think the Fed is projecting in a way that reflects the potential seriousness of the problem,” he said. “I am concerned that with everything that’s going on, the economy may be a bit charging toward a wall.”(Adds Summers is on Square’s board in 8th paragraph)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Exxon Activist Battle Turns Climate Angst Into Referendum on CEO

(Bloomberg) -- An unprecedented fight over who should sit on the board of Exxon Mobil Corp. is turning into a referendum on Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods as a decades-long struggle by climate campaigners comes to a head.Activist investor Engine No. 1 LLC wants to replace one-third of Exxon’s board in an effort to force the Western world’s largest oil explorer to embrace a transition away from fossil fuels and end a decade of what it calls “value destruction.” Shareholders are set to gather — virtually — for their annual meeting on May 26.The stakes are high. Under Exxon’s bylaws, a victory for any dissident director would mean an incumbent must step down, equating to a zero-sum proxy contest: of 16 candidates, only 12 will prevail. 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But as worries about climate change have gone mainstream in the investment world, the clash has evolved into a confrontation over boardroom seats.In other corners of the commodities sector, shareholders this year have already shown frustration with executives’ reluctance to embrace tough environmental goals. DuPont de Nemours Inc. suffered an 81% vote against management on plastic-pollution disclosures, while ConocoPhillips lost a contest on adopting more stringent emission targets.Exxon’s meeting this year threatens to be one of the stormiest on the U.S. corporate calendar, made all the more remarkable for being instigated by a newly formed fund that only has a $54 million, or 0.02%, stake in the oil behemoth. Investor dissatisfaction with the company largely centers on two issues that are becoming more interlinked: climate change and profits. The oil giant envisages a profitable, long-term future for fossil fuels, but sees no point in investing in traditional renewable energy businesses. It also refuses to commit to a net-zero emissions target, unlike European rivals.Climate concerns are are resonating more deeply with investors at the same time that Exxon’s status as a financial powerhouse crumbles after multiple corporate missteps, some of which preceded Woods’s elevation to CEO in 2017. Returns on invested capital are a fraction of what they were in Exxon’s heyday a decade ago and debt ballooned 40% last year as Covid-19 paralyzed economies and energy demand around the world. Under mounting pressure and concerns over Exxon’s ability to pay the S&P 500’s third-largest dividend, the CEO slashed an ambitious $200 billion expansion program by a third late last year. It was a relief to some investors who had questioned both the cost and the need for such projects at a time when policymakers — and even rivals like BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc — are planning for the twilight of the petroleum era.Still, Engine No. 1 says Exxon needs higher-quality directors who are willing to challenge management. Exxon missed key industry trends such as the shale revolution, “the shift to focusing on project returns over chasing production growth, and the need to gradually prepare for rather than ignore the energy transition,” according to the San Francisco-based activist.After receiving early backing from major state pension funds, Engine No. 1’s campaign gathered momentum this month as two prominent shareholder-advisory firms, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass Lewis & Co., threw their partial support behind the activist’s efforts. ISS wrote a scathing rebuke of Exxon’s climate strategy, saying the company had only taken “incremental steps to prepare for the inevitable.”Top 20 shareholder Legal & General Investment Management, a previous critic of Exxon, is also backing Engine No. 1 and has pledged to vote against Woods. However, the voting intentions of some other major investors, such as Vanguard Group, BlackRock Inc. and State Street Corp. aren’t clear — all three declined to comment when contacted by Bloomberg News. Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund said late last week that it would support the reelection of most Exxon directors, but not Woods, part of its long-standing push to separate the roles of CEO and chairman at Exxon.With such animosity brewing, the usual course of action would be for Exxon’s board to meet with the activists and hash out a compromise. But that has yet to happen, and both sides appear to be entrenched.Exxon said in a May 14 letter to shareholders its board “listens and responds to shareholder feedback,” but that Engine No. 1, founded only a few months ago, wasn’t interested in engaging and “is trying to replace four of our world-class directors with unqualified nominees.'' The company added that the activist fund's plans would “derail our progress and jeopardize your dividend.”For its part, Engine No. 1 said Exxon refused to meet its nominees: Gregory Goff, former CEO of refiner Andeavor environmental scientist Kaisa Hietala private equity investor Alexander Karsner and Anders Runevad, ex-CEO of power producer Vestas Wind Systems A/S.Exxon did talk with another investor, hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co., which built a stake in an effort to push for change. Those discussions led to the appointment of the new directors, including activist investor Jeff Ubben. The oil company has also announced new emissions targets, started a low-carbon business, and supported policies that will help technological innovations like carbon capture.In some respects Exxon is in a better position that it was at the start of 2021. Its stock has rallied more than 40% as oil prices rebounded and lockdowns are eased. Engine No. 1 points to its involvement as the turning point, while Exxon claims the market is rewarding prudent cost cutting and high-return investments made over the last couple of years. The forthcoming vote will help to determine which side of the debate other investors lean toward.“There’s a governance challenge at Exxon,” said John Hoeppner, head of U.S. sustainable investments at Legal & General. “How seriously is the current board questioning management’s business model? It’s important to add urgency to the debate.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Away From the Big Crypto Blaze, Another Market Tension Eases

(Bloomberg) -- A bear market in Bitcoin. A bull market in Bitcoin. Taper talk, or talk thereof. The biggest pop for meme stocks of the season. A lot just happened, and yet when the history of this week is written, it’s possible a much quieter development will be the lead.After intensifying earlier this month, inflation anxiety appears to be easing. Rates on 10-year breakevens dropped by the most on a weekly basis since September, capping any rise in Treasury yields. Meanwhile, a surge in raw materials continued to sputter, with the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index sinking for a second straight week.That was enough to comfort investors in big tech. The Nasdaq 100 posted its first weekly gain in over a month, after being rattled by warnings that soaring prices would eat into future cash flows and shine a harsh light on expensive valuations. And while minutes from the Federal Reserve’s April meeting signaled an openness to discussing a scaling back of asset purchases, comments that it would “likely be some time” until the economy recovers to that point helped prevent any knee-jerk reactions.“Inflation is really only a problem for stocks if it’s going to bring the Fed off the sidelines,” said Brian Nick, chief investment strategist at Nuveen. “If you see interest rates falling, if you see inflation expectations receding, if you see the Fed continuing to come out with overall dovish minutes, it tends to be a pretty friendly environment for tech.”Whether or not the U.S. economy has seen peak growth, a series of weaker-than-expected reports have helped quell inflation fears. Last month’s housing starts were lower than anticipated, while the pace of mortgage applications slowed from the prior month. On Thursday, data from the Philadelphia Fed showed manufacturing activity in the region eased in May from a 48-year high the prior month.As a result, Citigroup Inc.’s economic surprise gauge -- which measures the magnitude to which reports either beat or miss forecasts -- briefly dropped into negative territory for the first time since June 2020 this week.The Nasdaq 100 held onto a 0.1% gain this week as inflation expectations ebbed, snapping a four-week losing streak. Tech eked out a gain as cryptocurrencies ricocheted, with Bitcoin dropping 12% on Friday alone after China reiterated its intent to to crack down on mining.Still, some warn that it’s too early to signal the all-clear on inflation risks. Anxiety around price pressures in the coming months should be a boon for defensive sectors and particularly favor financials, while eating into growth stocks with duration-sensitive cash flows, according to State Street Global Advisors.“Because there’s so much disagreement on how inflation may unfold, that disagreement in the market will inevitably lead to volatility,” said Olivia Engel, chief investment officer of SSGA’s active quantitative equity team. “If you look at the aggregate market, it’s hiding some of that market rotation -- that’s where you can see much bigger moves.”(Updates Bitcoin price in seventh paragraph.)More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Hong Kong Exchange’s New CEO Is Put on Cleanup Duty

(Bloomberg) -- The veteran JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker who’s taking the helm at Hong Kong’s exchange has been put on cleanup duty.Chairman Laura Cha has handed Nicolas Aguzin, who takes charge Monday, the task of reviewing the exchange’s practices after a bribery scandal and censure from the regulator, according to people familiar with the matter. The 52-year-old former head of JPMorgan’s international private bank is seen by Cha as having the experience to force a cultural shake-up given his background at a heavily regulated bank, said the people, asking to remain anonymous discussing sensitive issues.Aguzin takes over as the bourse is delivering record earnings. His predecessor, Charles Li, oversaw a doubling of revenue during his decade in charge through acquisitions, loosened listing rules and, most importantly, trading links with mainland China. The easier oversight allowed the listing of Chinese technology giants such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and positioned it as the exchange-of-choice for mainland firms amid tensions with the U.S.But there has also been criticism that investor protections were sacrificed to win business. Over the past years, there has been a steady stream of flareups between the bourse and the regulator over IPO quality, the proliferation of shell companies and whether to allow dual class shares.“The HKEX has done a great job in market development, and has introduced measures to improve investor protection,” Sally Wong, CEO of Hong Kong Investment Funds Association, said in an email. “But it seems that issuers’ voices tend to prevail over that of the investors. We very much look forward to working with the new CEO to see how to strike a more appropriate balance to better safeguard investor interests.”Spokespeople for the exchange and the Securities and Futures Commission as well as Aguzin declined to comment.In a review released last year after the former IPO vetting co-head was arrested for bribery, the SFC discovered “numerous ambiguities” in the Chinese Wall between its listing and business divisions. Other issues highlighted last year include keeping track of share options and following up on complaints on withdrawn IPO applications.Cha had begun to tighten internal checks and balances for senior managers toward the end of Li’s tenure as well as assert more board control over hiring, people familiar have said. The exchange has halted the interactions between its listing and business units, according to the SFC review. Last week, in a joint statement with the SFC, the bourse vowed to better police its frothy IPO market, citing concerns about companies inflating their values, market manipulation and unusually high underwriting fees.Aguzin is expected by the board to prioritize the exchange’s role as a regulator alongside its growth ambitions, people familiar said.David Webb, a former HKEX director, investor and corporate governance activist, is skeptical the bourse will institute any meaningful reforms. “HKEX has, with government approval, lowered its standards to attract business, for example, by listing second-class shares with weak voting rights,” he said in an email. “It shows no sign of raising them again.”Investors have also urged the exchange to set rules requiring company boards to have a lead outside board member or an independent chair, according to Wong. “But it seems that the HKEX is not ready to even bring them up for market consultation.”The government is on board with Aguzin’s appointment, which comes at a fraught time after Beijing has tightened its grip on the city, raising questions about its continued status as an international financial hub.Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui said the three-tiered regulatory system comprising his department, the SFC and HKEX has worked well. Aguzin’s appointment embodies the city’s openness and its role as a gateway between China and the world, he said. “This is exactly what we will pursue.”Further deepening connections to China is seen as key to growth for the bourse, which also faces stiffer competition from mainland exchanges as China opens its financial markets.While Aguzin has worked in Asia for the past decade -- also serving as JPMorgan’s CEO of Asia Pacific from 2013 to 2020 -- he will be the first non-Chinese CEO of a bourse that often needs to deal with Beijing.Cha is well connected in China, having served as vice chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission. She has signaled that she sees the bourse’s role as serving Beijing’s interests and avoiding competition with the mainland, a person said familiar with the matter said last year.The push toward the mainland is not all welcome in China. Expanding the link to include several benchmark stocks has proved difficult, with one sticking point being whether to include shares like Alibaba Group, which are dual listed and with weighted voting rights.Even so, Cha said at the time of the appointment that Aguzin’s remit will include further strengthening the link to the mainland.Another board member, Fred Hu, said in an interview that “Aguzin is well positioned to take HKEX into the future, to further deepen the connectivity with China but also connectivity with the rest of the world.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Inside the Race to Avert Disaster at China’s Biggest ‘Bad Bank’

(Bloomberg) -- It was past 9 p.m. on Financial Street in Beijing by the time the figure inside Huarong Tower there picked up an inkbrush and, with practiced strokes, began to set characters to paper.Another trying workday was ending for Wang Zhanfeng, corporate chairman, Chinese Communist Party functionary—and, less happily, replacement for a man who very recently had been executed.On this April night, Wang was spotted unwinding as he often does in his office: practicing the art of Chinese calligraphy, a form that expresses the beauty of classical characters and, it is said, the nature of the person who writes them.Its mastery requires patience, resolve, skill, calm—and Wang, 54, needs all that and more. Because here on Financial Street, a brisk walk from the hulking headquarters of the People’s Bank of China, a dark drama is playing out behind the mirrored façade of Huarong Tower. How it unfolds will test China’s vast, debt-ridden financial system, the technocrats working to fix it, and the foreign banks and investors caught in the middle.Welcome to the headquarters of China Huarong Asset Management Co., the troubled state-owned ‘bad bank’ that has set teeth on edge around the financial world.For months now Wang and others have been trying to clean up the mess here at Huarong, an institution that sits—quite literally—at the center of China’s financial power structure. To the south is the central bank, steward of the world’s second-largest economy to the southwest, the Ministry of Finance, Huarong’s principal shareholder less than 300 meters to the west, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, entrusted with safeguarding the financial system and, of late, ensuring Huarong has a funding backstop from state-owned banks until at least August.The patch though doesn’t settle the question of how Huarong makes good on some $41 billion borrowed on the bond markets, most incurred under Wang’s predecessor before he was ensnared in a sweeping crackdown on corruption. That long-time executive, Lai Xiaomin, was put to death in January—his formal presence expunged from Huarong right down to the signature on its stock certificates.The bigger issue is what all this might portend for the nation’s financial system and efforts by China’s leader, Xi Jinping, to centralize control, rein in years of risky borrowing and set the nation’s financial house in order.“They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t,” said Michael Pettis, a Beijing-based professor of finance at Peking University and author of Avoiding the Fall: China’s Economic Restructuring. Bailing out Huarong would reinforce the behavior of investors who ignore risk, he said, while a default endangers financial stability if a “chaotic” repricing of the bond market ensues.Just what is going on inside Huarong Tower? Given the stakes, few are willing to discuss that question publicly. But interviews with people who work there, as well as at various Chinese regulators, provide a glimpse into the eye of this storm.Huarong, simply put, has been in full crisis mode ever since it delayed its 2020 earnings results, eroding investor confidence. Executives have come to expect to be summoned by government authorities at a moment’s notice whenever market sentiment sours and the price of Huarong debt sinks anew. Wang and his team must provide weekly written updates on Huarong’s operations and liquidity. They have turned to state-owned banks, pleading for support, and reached out to bond traders to try to calm nerves, with little lasting success.In public statements, Huarong has insisted repeatedly that its position is ultimately sound and that it will honor its obligations. Banking regulators have had to sign off on the wording of those statements—another sign of how serious the situation is considered and, ultimately, who’s in charge.Then there are regular audiences with the finance ministry and the other powerful financial bureaucracies nearby. Among items usually on the agenda: possible plans to hive off various Huarong businesses.Huarong executives are often kept waiting and, people familiar with the meetings say, tend to gain only limited access to top officials at the CBIRC, the banking overseer.The country’s apex financial watchdog—chaired by Liu He, Xi’s right-hand man in overseeing the economy and financial system—has asked for briefings on the Huarong situation and coordinated meetings between regulators, according to regulatory officials. But it has yet to communicate to them a long-term solution, including whether to impose losses on bondholders, the officials said.Representatives at the People’s Bank of China, the CBIRC, Huarong and the Ministry of Finance didn’t respond to requests for comment.Focus on BasicsA mid-level party functionary with a PhD in finance from China’s reputed Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, Wang arrived at Huarong Tower in early 2018, just as the corruption scandal was consuming the giant asset management company. He is regarded inside Huarong as low-key and down-to-earth, particularly in comparison to the company’s previous leader, Lai, a man once known as the God of Wealth.Hundreds of Huarong staff, from Beijing division chiefs to branch employees in faraway outposts, listened in on April 16 as Wang reviewed the quarterly numbers. He stressed that the company’s fundamentals had improved since he took over, a view shared by some analysts though insufficient to pacify investors. But he had little to say about what is on so many minds: plans to restructure and shore up the giant company, which he’d pledged to clean up within three years of taking over.His main message to the troops: focus on the basics, like collecting on iffy assets and improving risk management. The employees were silent. No one asked a question.One employee characterized the mood in his area as business as usual. Another said co-workers at a Huarong subsidiary were worried the company might not be able to pay their salaries. There’s a widening gulf between the old guard and new, said a third staffer. Those who outlasted Lai and have seen their compensation cut year after year have little confidence in the turnaround, while new joiners are more hopeful about the opportunities the change of direction offers.Others joke that Huarong Tower must suffer from bad feng shui: after Lai was arrested, a bank that had a branch in the building had to be bailed out to the tune of $14 billion.Dark humor aside, a rough consensus has begun to emerge among senior management and mid-level regulators: like other key state-owned enterprises, Huarong still appears to be considered too big to fail. Many have come away with the impression—and it is that, an impression—that for now, at least, the Chinese government will stand behind Huarong.At the very least, these people say, no serious financial tumult, such as a default by Huarong, is likely to be permitted while the Chinese Communist Party is planning a nationwide spectacle to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1. Those festivities will give Xi—who has been positioning to stay in power indefinitely—an opportunity to cement his place among China’s most powerful leaders including Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.What will come after that patriotic outpouring on July 1 is uncertain, even to many inside Huarong Tower. Liu He, China’s vice premier and chair of the powerful Financial Stability and Development Committee, appears in no hurry to force a difficult solution. Silence from Beijing has started to rattle local debt investors, who until about a week ago had seemed unmoved by the sell-off in Huarong’s offshore bonds.Competing InterestsHuarong’s role in absorbing and disposing of lenders’ soured debt is worth preserving to support the banking sector cleanup, but requires government intervention, according to Dinny McMahon, an economic analyst for Beijing-based consultancy Trivium China and author of China’s Great Wall of Debt.“We anticipate that foreign bondholders will be required to take a haircut, but it will be relatively small,” he said. “It will be designed to signal that investors should not assume government backing translates into carte blanche support.”For now, in the absence of direct orders from the top, Huarong has been caught in the middle of the competing interests among various state-owned enterprises and government bureaucracies.China Investment Corp., the $1 trillion sovereign fund, for instance, has turned down the idea of taking a controlling stake from the finance ministry. CIC officials have argued they don’t have the bandwidth or capability to fix Huarong’s problems, according to people familiar with the matter.The People’s Bank of China, meantime, is still trying to decide whether to proceed with a proposal that would see it assume more than 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) of bad assets from Huarong, those people said.And the Ministry of Finance, which owns 57% of Huarong on behalf of the Chinese government, hasn’t committed to recapitalizing the company, though it hasn’t ruled it out, either, one person said.CIC didn’t respond to requests for comment.The banking regulator has bought Huarong some time, brokering an agreement with state-owned lenders including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. that would cover any funding needed to repay the equivalent of $2.5 billion coming due by the end of August. By then, the company aims to have completed its 2020 financial statements after spooking investors by missing deadlines in March and April.“How China deals with Huarong will have wide ramifications on global investors’ perception of and confidence in Chinese SOEs,” said Wu Qiong, a Hong Kong-based executive director at BOC International Holdings. “Should any defaults trigger a reassessment of the level of government support assumed in rating SOE credits, it would have deep repercussions for the offshore market.”The announcement of a new addition to Wang’s team underscores the stakes and, to some insiders, provides a measure of hope. Liang Qiang is a standing member of the All-China Financial Youth Federation, widely seen as a pipeline to groom future leaders for financial SOEs. Liang, who arrived at Huarong last week and will soon take on the role of president, has worked for the three other big state asset managers that were established, like Huarong, to help clean up bad debts at the nation’s banks. Some speculate this points to a wider plan: that Huarong might be used as a blueprint for how authorities approach these other sprawling, debt-ridden institutions.Meantime, inside Huarong Tower, a key item remains fixed in the busy schedules of top executives and rank-and-file employees alike. It is a monthly meeting, the topic of which is considered vital to Huarong’s rebirth: studying the doctrines of the Chinese Communist Party and speeches of President Xi Jinping. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Bitcoin Volatility Puts Weekend Traders on Stomach-Churning Ride

(Bloomberg) -- Bitcoin’s extreme volatility carried into the weekend as the world’s largest cryptocurrency continued to whipsaw investors with double-digit percentage moves.Bitcoin traded at $33,052, down 13%, as of 3:45 p.m. in New York, holding below its 200-day moving average other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum and Dogecoin, also slumped, according to CoinGecko.com. Earlier in the weekend, Bitcoin had climbed more than 8% to move back above $38,000 following a tweet from Elon Musk.A measure of implied volatility on Bitcoin comparable to the U.S. equity market’s VIX indicator sits above 130, higher than the stock version has ever gotten in 30 years. Thirty-day historical volatility in the coin is about 100, some seven times more than the S&P 500 and surpassing the comparable measure in lumber futures, and an ETF designed to pay twice the daily return in crude oil.Investors in Bitcoin are experiencing one of its rockiest weeks ever after a string of negative headlines, with prices swinging as much as 30% in each direction Wednesday alone, when it fell as low as $30,016, the least since January. Even with the gyrations, Bitcoin is still up more than 250% in the past year.The turbulent stretch began after Musk said Tesla would no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its electric vehicles, citing the coin’s intensive energy use. Another blow came Friday when China reiterated a warning that it intends to crack down on cryptocurrency mining as part of an effort to control financial risks.“Bitcoin has two problems, ESG and decreasing reliance on China, both of which could take some time” Edward Moya, senior market analyst with Oanda Corp., wrote in a note.Other cryptocurrencies also slumped on Sunday, with Ethereum briefly trading below $1,900 and satirical token Dogecoin dropping more than 16%, according to Coinmarketcap.com.Read more: Musk Tweets He Supports Crypto in Battle Against Fiat CurrenciesThe latest warning from Beijing followed a statement earlier in the week disseminated by the People’s Bank of China that financial institutions weren’t allowed to accept cryptocurrencies for payment.China has long expressed displeasure with the anonymity provided by Bitcoin and other crypto tokens. The country is home to a large concentration of the world’s crypto miners who use vast sums of computing power to verify transactions on the blockchain.“It is no surprise that governments are not inclined to give up their monetary monopolies. Throughout history, governments first regulate and then take ownership,” Deutsche Bank macro strategist Marion Laboure wrote in a May 20 report titled “Bitcoin: Trendy Is the Last Stage Before Tacky.” “As cryptocurrencies begin to seriously compete with regular currencies and fiat currencies, regulators and policymakers will crack down.”‘Higher Stakes’A mid-week report from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis showed over half of the $410 billion spent on acquiring current Bitcoin holdings occurred in the past 12 months. About $110 billion of that was spent on buying it at an average cost of less than $36,000 per coin. That means the vast majority of investments aren’t making a profit unless the coin trades at $36,000 or higher.“The stakes are much higher now than they were in the past,” Philip Gradwell, chief economist at Chainalysis, said in an email. “This week’s price fall means that a lot of investments are now held at a loss. This is going to be a serious test for recent investors, but so much is at stake now that there is the incentive and resources to address the problems in crypto that prevent it from becoming a mature asset.”Weekends tend to be particularly volatile for crypto assets which -- unlike most traditional assets -- trade around the clock every day of the week. Before this weekend, Bitcoin’s average swing on Saturdays and Sundays this year comes in at 5.14%.That type of volatility is owing to a few factors: Bitcoin’s held by relatively few people, meaning that price swings can be magnified during low-volume periods. And the market remains hugely fragmented with dozens of platforms operating under different standards. That means cryptocurrencies lack a centralized market structure akin to that of traditional assets.“When noise is accompanied by a huge amount of speculation and the noise can be interpreted negatively, you get these huge swings,” said Eric Green, chief investment officer of equity at Penn Capital. “What goes straight up is going to come down at some point.”More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

First Warning Sign in the Global Commodity Boom Flashes in China

(Bloomberg) -- One pillar of this year’s blistering commodities rally -- Chinese demand -- may be teetering.Beijing aced its economic recovery from the pandemic largely via an expansion in credit and a state-aided construction boom that sucked in raw materials from across the planet. Already the world’s biggest consumer, China spent $150 billion on crude oil, iron ore and copper ore alone in the first four months of 2021. Resurgent demand and rising prices mean that’s $36 billion more than the same period last year.With global commodities rising to record highs, Chinese government officials are trying to temper prices and reduce some of the speculative froth that’s driven markets. Wary of inflating asset bubbles, the People’s Bank of China has also been restricting the flow of money to the economy since last year, albeit gradually to avoid derailing growth. At the same time, funding for infrastructure projects has shown signs of slowing.Economic data for April suggest that both China’s economic expansion and its credit impulse -- new credit as a percentage of GDP -- may already have crested, putting the rally on a precarious footing. The most obvious impact of China’s deleveraging would fall on those metals keyed to real estate and infrastructure spending, from copper and aluminum, to steel and its main ingredient, iron ore.“Credit is a major driver for commodity prices, and we reckon prices peak when credit peaks,” said Alison Li, co-head of base metals research at Mysteel in Shanghai. “That refers to global credit, but Chinese credit accounts for a big part of it, especially when it comes to infrastructure and property investment.”But the impact of China’s credit pullback could ripple far and wide, threatening the rally in global oil prices and even China’s crop markets. And while tighter money supply hasn’t stopped many metals hitting eye-popping levels in recent weeks, some, like copper, are already seeing consumers shying away from higher prices.“The slowdown in credit will have a negative impact on China’s demand for commodities,” said Hao Zhou, senior emerging markets economist at Commerzbank AG. “So far, property and infrastructure investments haven’t shown an obvious deceleration. But they are likely to trend lower in the second half of this year.”A lag between the withdrawal of credit and stimulus from the economy and its impact on China’s raw material purchases may mean that markets haven’t yet peaked. However, its companies may eventually soften imports due to tighter credit conditions, which means the direction of the global commodity market will hinge on how much the recovery in economies including the U.S. and Europe can continue to drive prices higher.Some sectors have seen policy push an expansion in capacity, such as Beijing’s move to grow the country’s crude oil refining and copper smelting industries. Purchases of the materials needed for production in those sectors may continue to see gains although at a slower pace.One example of slowing purchases is likely to be in refined copper, said Mysteel’s Li. The premium paid for the metal at the port of Yangshan has already hit a four-year low in a sign of waning demand, and imports are likely to fall this year, she said.At the same time, the rally in copper prices probably still has a few months to run, according to a recent note from Citigroup Inc., citing the lag between peak credit and peak demand. From around $10,000 a ton now, the bank expects copper to reach $12,200 by September.It’s a dynamic that’s also playing out in ferrous metals markets.“We’re still at an early phase of tightening in terms of money reaching projects,” said Tomas Gutierrez, an analyst at Kallanish Commodities Ltd. “Iron ore demand reacts with a lag of several months to tightening. Steel demand is still around record highs on the back of the economic recovery and ongoing investments, but is likely to pull back slightly by the end of the year.”For agriculture, credit tightening may only affect China’s soaring crop imports around the margins, said Ma Wenfeng, an analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant Co. Less cash in the system could soften domestic prices by curbing speculation, which may in turn reduce the small proportion of imports handled by private firms, he said.The wider trend is for China’s state-owned giants to keep importing grains to cover the nation’s domestic shortfall, to replenish state reserves and to meet trade deal obligations with the U.S.No DisasterMore broadly, Beijing’s policy tightening doesn’t spell disaster for commodities bulls. For one, the authorities are unlikely to accelerate deleveraging from this point, according the latest comments from the State Council, China’s cabinet.“Internal guidance from our macro department is that the country won’t tighten credit too much -- they just won’t loosen further,” said Harry Jiang, head of trading and research at Yonggang Resouces, a commodity trader in Shanghai. “We don’t have many concerns over credit tightening.”And in any case, raw materials markets are no longer almost entirely in thrall to Chinese demand.“In the past, the inflection point of industrial metal prices often coincides with that of China’s credit cycle,” said Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. “But that doesn’t mean it will be like that this time too, because the U.S. has unleashed much larger stimulus than China, and its demand is very strong.”Hu also pointed to caution among China’s leaders, who probably don’t want to risk choking off their much-admired recovery by sharp swings in policy.“I expect China’s property investment will slow down, but not by too much,” he said. “Infrastructure investment hasn’t changed too much in the past few years, and won’t this year either.”Additionally, China has been pumping up consumer spending as a lever for growth, and isn’t as reliant on infrastructure and property investment as it used to be, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong. The disruption to global commodities supply because of the pandemic is also a new factor that can support prices, he said.Other policy priorities, such as cutting steel production to make inroads on China’s climate pledges, or boosting the supply of energy products, whether domestically or via purchases from overseas, are other complicating factors when it comes to assessing import demand and prices for specific commodities, according to analysts.More stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

As mortgage rates hit 3% again, expert predicts we'll see 4% rates this year

Though rates have inched up, it’s not too late to get a low rate to buy or refinance.

Is Buying Bitcoin Right Now a Smart Idea?

It’s no longer news that Bitcoin’s dramatic fall on Thursday weighed on market sentiments relatively but Willy Woo a top crypto analyst, still believes the curtain call for Bitcoin’s overall upward rally has not occurred yet.

Dubai Shares Gain Most in Gulf as Real Estate Rallies: Inside EM

(Bloomberg) -- Dubai’s benchmark stock index advanced the most among Gulf peers as real estate shares extended gains.The Dubai Financial Market General Index rose as much as 1.7%, up for a fifth day in its longest winning streak since March. The sub-index tracking Dubai-based real estate shares climbed as much as 2.7% on Sunday, reaching the highest level since November 2019. Those shares are trading higher amid a residential property price rally Morgan Stanley sees lasting for years.Morgan Stanley Sees Dubai Property Rally Lasting for YearsVaccinations are “helping a lot the reopening theme from an investment case perspective,” particularly in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, Ali El Adou, head of asset management at Daman Investments in Dubai, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. The UAE, a federation of seven sheikdoms including Dubai, has one of the highest inoculation rates globally.“We’re still bullish, in terms of that theme, especially when we’re now talking about malls, real estate, airlines, logistics, so we’re still focusing on that,” he said.Meanwhile, gauges in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Egypt and Israel notched gains while those in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were little changed. Qatari and Omani shares declined.MIDDLE EASTERN MARKETS:Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index ends little changedSaudi Marketing 1Q Profit 4.26M Riyals Vs. 8.12M Riyals Y/yDar Al Arkan 1Q Profit 28.5M Riyals Vs. 12.4M Riyals Y/yAlKhorayef 1Q Profit 26.9M RiyalsStock falls 5.4%, down most since MarchREAD: Saudi Bank Asset Growth Is at Lower Yields, CoR Trend UncertainThe Dubai Financial Market General Index climbs 1.3% to the highest level since Jan. 20Emaar Properties +2.7% Dubai Islamic Bank +1.9% Dubai Investments +3.1%CI Capital prefers Emaar Properties over its subsidiaries at current valuation as it offers “the most diversified exposure into all segments, including development, retail, and hospitality” as well as “the preferred play on the merger with Malls,” Sara Boutros and Marlene Milad write in a noteIn Abu Dhabi, the ADX General Index trades 0.4% higher, up to a fresh highFirst Abu Dhabi Bank +0.6% Aldar +1.1% Adnoc Distribution +1.9%Kuwait’s Premier Market ends 0.2% higher after falling for the past three sessionsAgility Public Warehousing pushes index up most, rising 1.4%ElSewedy rises as much as 9.2% in Cairo, the second biggest gainer by points among members of the EGX 30Company managed to increase its backlog slightly to Q1, and its gross profit surged 56% in the period, Prime Group’s analyst Dina Abdelbadie writes in a note“Thus, gross profit margin improved to 15.2% from 11.1%, thanks to higher volumes and prices in the wire & cable segment and higher prices of meters and transformers,” Abdelbadie (overweight) says, adding that the broker is positive on the stockMore stories like this are available on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

How much money should you have to buy your first home?

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Amid marijuana safety concerns, Colorado unveils pot vending machines

LITTLETON, Colo. — In the posh resorts of Vail Valley, where celebrities are as common as the paparazzi who stalk them, a machine has suddenly stolen the limelight.

Meet Zazzz, thought to be the nation's first identity-verifying marijuana vending machine. Unveiled at an invitation-only party in Avon, Colo., last weekend, it has become another first in a state that has seen its share since recreational marijuana was legalized.

At first glance the lime green contraption looks like any that might spit out soft drinks or Cheetos, only this one comes equipped with state-of-the-art technology to check a user's identity and can dispense a full array of marijuana products, including edibles and pre-rolled joints.

But even as this quirky sensation was making its debut, in other parts of the state Colorado continued to grapple with growing concern over the danger associated with misguided marijuana use and the ease with which products were falling into underage or unsuspecting hands.

On Monday night, a 44-year-old Denver wife and mother was shot and killed as she pleaded on the phone with police dispatchers to send help. She said her husband was becoming increasingly violent, suffering from hallucinations and may have consumed edible marijuana, police said.

Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson confirmed to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Richard Kirk's possible pot use was part of the homicide investigation.

Kristine Kirk's death comes one month after a Wyoming college student jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony after eating an unknown amount of a marijuana cookie. On April 2, the Denver coroner's office ruled that marijuana use was linked to his death.

"This is all happening so quickly we can't keep up with it," said Rep. Frank McNulty, a Republican lawmaker in Colorado's General Assembly. He said Wednesday that in testimony in committee, as well as in media reports, there have been almost daily incidents of children ingesting marijuana resembling candy or cookies, with some kids ending up in the hospital.

McNulty and Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer of Boulder have joined together to back a bill to standardize the potency so that one ounce of a marijuana leaf product is the same as an edible or other type. The lawmakers are also pushing a measure that would require that any candy that contained marijuana be distinguishable from normal candies, either in shape, color or size.

Edibles have recently come under intense scrutiny following the Wyoming student's death, considered by authorities to be the first marijuana-related death since recreational use was legalized.

By law, such products can contain no more than 10 milligrams of THC per serving, but often consumers don't pay attention to serving sizes. One large brownie can contain up to 10 servings, or 100 milligrams of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Dr. Paula Riggs, a psychology professor and director of the division of substance dependence at the University of Colorado-Denver, says smoking marijuana hits the central nervous system quickly. But edible marijuana has a delayed reaction, so people often keep eating, looking for a buzz.

"A half-hour later they are on their back," she told The Times this month.

Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer, who serves as president of the Colorado Assn. of Chiefs of Police, said he and other law enforcement officials were watching the vending machine rollout along with all of the other firsts in the state. "We would want to make sure the state regulates them just as strongly as they do any other dispensary," he said, adding that he wants assurances systems are in place in the machines so no one under 21 can use them.

He finds irony that the celebration to introduce Zazzz occurred in his little town, where neither medical nor recreational marijuana is legal. The law Colorado passed allows towns and cities to keep marijuana illegal if they choose.

Ticer said one of his first orders of business was to make sure the vending machine was empty.


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And while it does appear to take the convenience of buying marijuana to new levels of easy, the company claims it has covered its bases in terms of security.

Nifty: The dispenser (pictured) is aimed at recreational marijuana users in the future, but is still only available for medical-use license holders

'[The user] would swipe their driver's license at which point multiple cameras would allow us to use some advanced biometrics to make absolutely certain that the person who swiped the card is the owner of that card,' Mr Shearin explained to 9News while speaking at the launch.

'I'm a father of a 12-year-old daughter and I wouldn't want her having access to it, so we paid close attention to that.'

For those who do meet the right criteria however, it's a simple case of: 'Swipe ID and get verified. Select products and pay. Retrieve products and depart using appropriate bagging solution.'

Hopes for a greener future: California-based Medbox (left) currently caters for the medical-use only niche but ZaZZZ (right) hopes that it can capitalize on Colorado's legalization of marijuana for recreational use too

The machine is currently housed at Herbal Elements, an Avon medical dispensary so will still not yet be available for recreational users 'at this point' - essentially until the company feels it’s ready.

Only last year, Bruce Bedrick, CEO of Medbox, a California-based weed vending machine for medical use only, predicted that the transition from machines such as his, to those available to the general public such as the ZaZZZ model, was 'a couple of years down the road'.

Some people want to see this free-flowing marijuana. They want to go from federal and state ban to marijuana for everybody

'Some people want to see this free-flowing marijuana. They want to go from federal and state ban to marijuana for everybody,' Mr Bedrick - also known as 'the Steve Jobs of medical marijuana dispensing' - said to The Huffington Post.

'We don't believe that can happen. In order to gain respect and trust, it's better to go through gradual, medical adoption.'

However, since both Colorado and Washington State recently legalized the drugs recreational use, it's likely that a whole wash of ambitious companies will be hot on the heels of ZaZZZ's business model, and sooner than many predicted.


Self-Service Pot? Marijuana Vending Machines Could Grow

DENVER (CBS4) – Just like soda machines spit out Coke by the can, automated pot-vending devices may be the future of self-service marijuana purchases.

“Why wait 10 minutes in line if you can walk right over?” Stephen Shearin, the president and COO of American Green, said.

He demonstrated the first-ever machine in Denver for CBS4 at the Doctors Orders dispensary: “They press to start, dip their ID. It sends a message out to the company — legal age software we work with who checks against DMV and a national database to ensure that the ID is valid.”

That software is the same some pharmacies use to verify identify. State regulation says the vending machines can only be used inside a dispensary, not a recreational shop. Customers whose age is verified at the front door must still use their ID to access the vending machine.

After the legalization of marijuana in 2012, pot has found its way more frequently into children’s hands. Shearin and Chase Lessman, the general manager of Doctors Orders, say improving technology should assuage parents’ fears.

“As we expand and ramp up, we’ll also ramp up the inability for someone to pose as someone else,” Lessman said.

Shearin said motion-sensitive technology, such as the nearly unique movements humans make with their hands, can help prevent children from using someone’s ID to purchase pot.

Lessman said the vending machines could alleviate pot shops’ crowding and long lines.

“We could have a line all the way to the door. We could have as many as 20 people in here waiting at one time,” he said.

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The future of weed? Vending machines could transform legal marijuana industry

A view of the screen of a ZaZZZ vending machine that contains cannabis flower, hemp-oil energy drinks, and other merchandise at Seattle Caregivers, a medical marijuana dispensary. Photograph: David Ryder/Reuters

A view of the screen of a ZaZZZ vending machine that contains cannabis flower, hemp-oil energy drinks, and other merchandise at Seattle Caregivers, a medical marijuana dispensary. Photograph: David Ryder/Reuters

Last modified on Fri 14 Jul 2017 22.28 BST

Buying medical marijuana just got a lot easier for the United States’ booming legal-weed industry – and a lot more high-tech.

Washington state’s first pot vending machine is located inside Seattle Caregivers medical dispensary, where employees will keep it stocked with pot-infused edibles as well as marijuana flowers.

This doesn’t mean that anyone can just walk up, stuff in a couple dollars and buy the kush of their choice – even if the nation’s top medical official is warming up to weed.

“That machine is like a miniature little Fort Knox,” Greg Patrick, a spokesman for the American Green, told NBC news.

First-time users of the machine – called the ZaZZZ, from a company called American Green – must swipe both their medical marijuana cards and their driver’s license to prove they are allowed to buy the products. The information provided is then compared to the biometrics data from the machine’s camera. If the two match, customers can create an account and complete their purchase. On future visits, they can simply present their driver’s license to pull up their account information and make their purchase.

American Green is considering building up the biometric security by requiring customers to provide fingerprints or retinal scans to confirm their identity, Stephen Shearin, president and chief operations officer of American Green, told the Daily Dot.

All of the company’s vending machines are currently located inside medical marijuana dispensaries and are only available for use when the dispensaries are open. That means there is always a dispensary employee nearby keeping watch and checking IDs.

“You never have access to the machine ever if there isn’t a human around to check your medical ID initially on your way in,” Shearin told King-TV in Seattle.

As medical marijuana becomes more widely accepted, high-tech pot startups – and potentially high-profile dispensaries – hope to get machines into locations out in the open.

ZaZZZ vending machines accept bitcoin and cash – no credit cards. Photograph: David Ryder/Reuters

Just as stamp vending machines have helped speed up service at US post offices, the vending machines at the dispensaries are intended to make shopping for cannabis convenient and speedy.

“Who wants to get stuck behind someone that’s asking a lot of questions?” said Shearin. “ZaZZZ will simplify, track and expedite the process in which marijuana users purchase their favorite products.”

The machine – which also accepts bitcoin – sounds like something from the future. But the truth is, such innovations in the field of medical marijuana are years ahead of the regulations.

Last year, Colorado was the first state to get its own vending machine for cannabis products. That machine, however, sold only edibles Seattle’s is the first vending machine to dispense marijuana flower buds. Overall, there are about 18 vending machines dispensing marijuana products in medical dispensaries in Arizona, California, Colorado and, as of Tuesday, Washington state.

Consider this: just four US states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use of cannabis. Less than half of the US – 23 states and Washington DC – have legalized some form of medical marijuana so far. Licensed growers cannot ship their products across state lines. Any products sold through the American Green vending machines must be grown in the states where the machines are located. The federal government doesn’t allow credit cards or debit cards to be used to purchase any cannabis products, so most dispensaries are cash only.


Canada’s Marijuana Vending Machines Don’t ID You

Canada’s Marijuana Vending Machines Don’t ID You

Natural Life Energy
Marijuana Vending Machines are a hot new topic along with the legalization of marijuana in many U.S. states.

Along with the first marijuana vending machine unveiled in Avon Colorado, BC Pain Society marijuana dispensary of Vancouver Canada has now joined in with what will definitely be a long list of places with marijuana vending machines.

There is something a bit special about the newly installed BC Pain Society’s nmarijuana vending machine. It doesn’t ID you.

That’s right, it doesn’t require your ID information in order to purchase marijuana from the marijuana vending machine so your transaction is kept anonymous.

Customers do have to be 19 or older, and are required to show a signed form coming from a medical professional in order to enter the section of the BC Pain Society marijuana dispensary that houses the marijuana vending machines.

Licensed medical marijuana users are able to make purchases from the marijuana vending machines without a hassle and without waiting on lines.

Justin Johnson, a licensed medical marijuana user who uses the drug to treat lower back pain said:

“I know what I want, I can avoid the lineup, come right up to the machine, put my $20 in, grab my baggie and go bada bing, bada boom, done…”

Chuck Varabioff of the BC Pain Society says the marijuana vending machines also help to streamline his business:

“We put it in the vending machine to cut down on theft and handling…”

“It’s packaged up and sealed professionally. So you come in, you buy your product, it’s fresh, it’s quick and easy, and you’re out of here in minutes.”

Licensed medical users can purchase an eighth of an once of marijuana in a sealed tamperproof bag for $20, an half-ounce for $50, and smaller quantities of $4 to $6 from two re-purposed gum-ball machines.

The marijuana vending machines dispenses various strains of marijuana including: Cotton Candy, Hemp Star, Purple Kush, and Pink Kush, BHO PK, Black Hash, Bubble Hash, PK Kief, and Master Kush.

The BC Pain Society has a sweet setup, but it is not quite legal. Health Canada states the law has changed as of April 1, 2004 and 30,000 home-based growing operations and distributors across Canada are no longer able to supply medical marijuana.

Only small networks of large-scale, for-profit growers certified by the health agency can supply medical marijuana.

The B.C. Pain Society keeps its doors open thanks to what many proprietors openly call a “legal gray area.”

The Vancouver Police’s official stance is that while medical marijuana dispensaries are indeed illegal, raiding them is far from its top priority and targeting violent gang members and other operations that pose a danger to the public is the priority.


Marijuana in Vending Machines Is the American Way

In April American Green, part of the Tranzbyte Corporation, unveiled a marijuana vending machine in Colorado intended for medical cannabis patients. The company plans to install its ZaZZZ vending machine in Herbal Elements, a medical marijuana dispensary in Eagle-Vail, Colorado.

ZaZZZ is out in the open, but allows customers to make their own choices in peace and relative privacy. In order to use the vending machine, customers must first present their IDs and medical marijuana cards at the door of the dispensary and then use an ID verification scanner attached to the vending machine. Tranzbyte COO Stephen Shearin told The Cannabist that the machine "uses the same technology that checks age/ID fraud under the Control Meth Act. Your identity is confirmed against active biometrics."

The ZaZZZ will stock a range of marijuana-related items, including joints and edibles. Herbal Elements owner Greg Honan told Denver's Fox 31 TV that the vending machine will make it easier to track inventory. The vending machine's contents go straight "from our budtender right into the machine," he explained. "There's no room for theft by patients, by employees."

Matthew Feeney ([email protected]) is an assistant editor at Reason 24/7.

Matthew Feeney is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute.

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I saw this and got all excited (ok, not really, but I wanted to) and then read on and saw that this is about as freedom expanding as an ATM machine in a bank lobby.


Automated weed vending machine rolled out in Colorado, Massachusetts

New Delhi, Aug 18: Vending machines are there to help you out in emergency situations. But these days, vending machines provide you with all sorts of goods from cupcakes to crabs, fresh salad to beer, and weed.

Boston-based anna is rolling out several pot vending machines in Colorado and Massachusetts locations to help buyers get their products quickly.

The vending machines can hold up to about 2,000 products each. It is not clear which dispensaries will play host to the first weed vending machines in the state.

Because the machines are installed inside a dispensary, it will stop underage people from getting access to the quick weed.

You still have to show ID and check in to use the vending machine.

What is marijuana vending machine?

A marijuana vending machine is a vending machine for selling or dispensing cannabis.

They are currently in use in the United States and Canada and some may be located in secure rooms in marijuana dispensaries. Some may be operated by employees after a fingerprint scan is obtained from the patient.

In Canada in 2013, marijuana vending machines were planned to be used in centres that cultivate the drug.



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