Medical marijuana: Coca-Cola says it won't put Coke machines in dispensaries, then backtracks

Categories: Marijuana, News

vintage coke machine.jpg
Does Coca-Cola have a corporate policy against putting Coke machines in medical marijuana dispensaries?

That's the message delivered to award-winning Altitude Wellness Center a few days ago. But after AWC decided to go public with the rejection, Coca-Cola has backed down, with a representative pledging to apologize.

Here's the story, shared with us by AWC owner Roger and his daughter, Melissa, who works there. Both of them ask that their last name not be used.

According to Melissa, an AWC rep put in a call to the local Coca-Cola distributor shortly after opening about a year and a half ago and requested a cooler to place in the business. Every month since then, the owners have paid between $200 and $300 for Coke to place in the cooler for giveaway to customers. More recently, however, they decided to swap out the cooler for a coin-and-bill-operated machine. With that in mind, Melissa sent the local Coca-Cola territory development manager the following e-mail on March 11:

We are currently doing business with you and we have a cooler for our coke products. We are thinking about changing to a machine that you have to put money in -- instead of helping yourself like we do today. Do you have that kind of dispensing unit available and if so can you give me prices?

Thank you

On March 14, the manager replied with the following note:

Hi Melissa,

Unfortunately, Coca-Cola has made an internal decision not to place equipment at Marijuana dispensaries. Although, you already have a piece of our equipment I am not able process a work order for a new machine. I do apologize for that. If you would like me schedule a pickup of the cooler please let me know. Thank you.

This answer may strike some observers as ironic, especially given that cocaine was once among Coca-Cola's primary ingredients. But the AWC crew wasn't amused. As Roger says, "The state legitimized our business by collecting individual taxes and fees for licensing. The state's collecting taxes, Denver's collecting taxes. To me, that's as legitimate as it can be."

altitude wellness center graphic.JPG
An Altitude Wellness Center graphic.
Adds Melissa, "We're a nice, family owned, family run dispensary. It's not an underground place with tunnels and black doors. And Coca-Cola is sold in bars -- it's probably sold in strip clubs, too. So why would it be okay to be in there and not in a completely legal medical marijuana dispensary?"

Melissa raised this issue more politely in her next e-mail to the Coca-Cola manager:

I was just wondering if there are any other business sector types that you do not place equipment in?

Here's the response she received:

I understand your concerns. We have sent this to corporate and we are waiting for an answer. I will let you know as soon as I hear I will let you know. Thank you.

The folks at AWC waited for a couple of days. Then, after hearing nothing, Roger sent a note to Westword asking, "Were you aware that the Coca-Cola Corporation feels that the Medical Marijuana industry in Colorado is distasteful...???" He concluded the missive by writing, "We'd be remiss if we didn't urge everyone that is involved in MMJ to boycott Coca-Cola, by not purchasing it in grocery stores and by refusing it at fast food places and movie theatres or anywhere else Coca-Cola has a presence... IF Coke doesn't need us, do we really need Coke?"

After speaking with Melissa and Roger, I left messages for the Denver-based manager. In response, I received an e-mail from Michele McKillip, the vice president of public affairs and communications for the Northwest region of Coca-Cola Refreshments; she's based in Washington state. In an interview earlier today, she confirmed that Coca-Cola has no blanket policy forbidding the placement of machines in medical marijuana businesses and would apologize to AWC for implying otherwise.

"There was a miscommunication, which we're seeking to resolve," she noted. "Our products remain in this establishment, and we will be working with our customers to continue meeting their needs. We always strive to provide the highest level of customer service and appreciate our customers' business -- and we will work with them" to resolve the situation to their satisfaction.

When told a short time ago about Coke's change of tune, and the promise of an apology call from McKillip or another company rep, Melissa was pleased yet confused.

"It's very good news," she acknowledges, "but it's frustrating to have to go through this with so many companies, from banks to credit card companies to Coke, when we're a legitimate business. I don't understand how they can single us out. We're not breaking any laws and we're paying our taxes."

At least when they're doing so in the future, they'll be able to quench their thirst.

More from our Marijuana archive: "March Reefer Madness: Releaf Center holds a Sweet Sixteen of ganja (PHOTOS)."


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29 comments
bud hunter
bud hunter

TThe local coke guy should have a job review as it seems he may have a personal problem with medical marijuana that could be a big P.R. problem for coke.

Qu
Qu

Okay, I'm as pro legalization as anyone, but by having Coca Cola in a MEDICAL dispensary really reduces the legitimacy of the claim. There is nothing in Coca Cola products that people need to be putting in their bodies. To sell it with medicine is to say the medicine is a novelty at best. Then to compare a medical dispensary to a bar or strip club... I'm not sure that's the direction we want to go if we really want to change peoples' minds about medical marijuana or marijuana in general.

Jonathan Steigman
Jonathan Steigman

Medical cannabis dispensaries should take the lead in promoting health and a healthy lifestyle. One can of Coca-Cola contains about 10 packs of sugar. Sugary sodas like Coke do NOT belong in any health establishment -- or anywhere else, for that matter.

http://www.onecanofsoda.com/

Say NO to Coca-Cola; medical cannabis dispensaries should refuse to be associated with such a sordid, anti-health company.

Eyeoneulawst
Eyeoneulawst

good, intelligent cannabis patients wouldn't drink that garbage anyways, FCUK coca cola!

J
J

Coke (yes the beverage) is far worse for you than cannabis. High Fructose Corn syrup, we've all heard about. But Phosphoric acid? Sodium Benzoate? Neither of those things are meant to be consumed-- they are industrial chemicals known to cause both immediate and long-term damage to the human body. Whereas cannabis has yet to be shown cupable in a single fatality, and demonstrates numerous preventative benefits, from heart disease to arthritis. So let's keep the poison out of our medicine cabinets. AWC should evict the Coca-Cola company and every other purveyor of the toxic sludge we have come to accept as soda.

zqxz
zqxz

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

zqxz
zqxz

Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

LV Muffler $ 5.99LV Bags $ 19.9 LV Wallet $ 6.55Armani Glasses $ 5.99LV Belt $ 6.9

Buy addresses---- tntn.usTips (48 hours after the special product is invalid)

Guest
Guest

Funny how a company that did business in Nazi Germany wont even do business in a legit medical marijuana clinic.

CokeisJunk
CokeisJunk

Coca-Cola, ha ha, its early formulas had cocaine, and it was a good drink back then. Now it's a diabetes-causing chemical-laden garbage drink. Medical cannabis clubs should shun Coca-Cola and all junk foods.

Frogg
Frogg

What's Ironic about Coca-cola once having a legal substance in their drinks? I mean ya cocaine is illegal now but at the time it was just as legal as caffeine. Marijuana isn't even legal in medical form.

Megabucks10457
Megabucks10457

Coke should shut the fuck up and put some more cocaine in their deadly brew of sugar. What I think would be a good idea for Coke machines would be for every business to band them from their locations after reading this article; I am going to!

solar_satellite
solar_satellite

Coke, based in Fascist Georgia, is undoubtedly out-of-touch with medical cannabis in Colorado, as are the national media, and, consequently, most people outside our State. The Westword Latest Word Blog is a mighty thin hose to use to try to irrigate public discourse with the truth about medical cannabis here. We are waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for Westword to PRINT something on the subject -- if you don't think this topic is a worthy journalistic endeavor, you shouldn't be getting all that advertising revenue. Doesn't it occur to you that this is a real opportunity for a capable writer?

johnnysandiego
johnnysandiego

As a med. marijuana cardholder in uber-conservative and blue-haired San Diego (the county that has been called the last stand against Prop215 here in CA), I can tell you that the desire to disregard the voter's will concerning MMJ is pervasive. My poor brother-in-law was harassed by two SDPD officers last year while smoking a joint on the beach. After they saw his card, they deliberated amongst themselves and realized (to their chagrin) there was nothing they could do other than write a $25 ticket for smoking in a non-smoking area. Obviously the tide has turned against the hypocritical prohibitionists, and it is only a matter of time until the opposition dies off and is replaced by younger, pro-marijuana voters. Baby Jesus will giggle with delight when we stop treating marijuana in such a disparate fashion compared to other drugs (or vices in general). OK, maybe Jesus won't be happy, but millions of stoners will be. Come on, it just lacks credulity these days to even attempt to make a stand against marijuana, at least on a public policy level. Sure, debate away about the evils of the weed, but religious/health arguments against marijuana are superseded by the economic, criminal, and personal liberty issues that arise from prohibition. And who cares about the children. The sanitizing of society for little rugrats takes all the fun out of life, and we all grow up and get corrupted anyway...

Duchess Of Dank
Duchess Of Dank

this was a great article, thanks!

p.s. i hope that in the little least is mexican coke :/

Brandon
Brandon

State law can over turn federal law if enough states come together legalize it medically. Its only a matter of time.

Rick Steeb
Rick Steeb

Phosphoric acid makes it a great rust remover. Main ingredient in Naval Jelly!

And they still use coca flavoring. As if caffeine is so much healthier than cocaine!?

Will Breathes
Will Breathes

Not sure where you live, but in Colorado marijuana is legal in medical form.

Frogg
Frogg

Why would Coca-cola put and illegal substance in their drink? They have never put an illegal substance in their product before so why now? You do understand that when they put cocaine in their drink it was legal and they ceased production of that formulation when it no longer was. And a Ban of coke or boycott of coke is highly unlikely. You doing so does very little.

solar_satellite
solar_satellite

I'm glad you are a patient but I don't want you on my debate team.

"Come on, it just lacks credulity these days to even attempt to make a stand against marijuana, at least on a public policy level"-- it may seem so to you, but California just defeated a legalization measure; I don't believe that that was accomplished without opponents taking a stand against cannabis on public policy grounds.

"Sure, debate away about the evils of the weed, but religious/health arguments against marijuana are superseded by the economic, criminal, and personal liberty issues that arise from prohibition."-- no, we need to win precisely that debate; users' perceptions of the costs of Prohibition have not had much traction with the polity as a whole.

"And who cares about the children. The sanitizing of society for little rugrats takes all the fun out of life, and we all grow up and get corrupted anyway"-- this is why you should stay out of the public debate; that is NOT an effective counter to claims that cannabis harms children!

Frogg
Frogg

Well not at all or not in the way you are saying it. For instance if all 50 states legalized it unless the fed gov did the same it would still be illegal. I know crazy right but the only thing the states can do is specifically come together (2/3 of them) and they really want be coming together. 2/3 of states legislatures may apply to Congress for a constitutional convention to consider amendments. All the consideration goes to congress. They right an amendment based on what those states want. After that they send it back to States to approve of which I think 2/3 must approve.

Test
Test

suck it mattie

Jmpkay
Jmpkay

Well who lives in the state of Federal? Ive never even heard of that state. Maybe he meant D.C., but its legal there too. Canna-what? Cazy wingnut!

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