Canada cannabis
A Vancouver dispensary has become the first in the country to install a marijuana vending machineChuck Varabioff / Youtube

Canada has followed in the footsteps of the US and switched on its first marijuana vending machine.

The device, which sells medical cannabis, has been installed at dispensary BC Pain Society in Vancouver. It comes one month after Colorado installed a similar machine.

Although the market for medical cannabis users in Canada remains small - just 37,000 people are permitted to purchase the drug, compared to 2.5 million in the US - it is anticipated the figure will rise to 400,000 by 2024.

Canadian law means the the vending machine is legal to use by people who have been authorised by a physician. Dispensaries must also be commercial ventures under new rules.

Chuck Varabioff of the BC Pain Society told Canada's Global News that buyers' identitities would be verified by staff.

He said: "Our regular members, they already know what they want, they can walk up straight up to the vending machine and get in and out quickly.

""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 here in minutes."

In April, Colorado's legalisation of cannabis paved the way for the world's first cannabis vending machine.

The machine, called ZaZZZ, has cameras attached to it to clamp down on illicit users and a scanning device which reads buyers' IDs.