5 Commonly used ID scanners for dispensaries

Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 02:48 pm

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably realized that the sale of recreational cannabis is growing rapidly around the country. More than 67% of Americans now support federal legalization, and the industry employs more than 243,000 full time workers. There are also more than 8,550 legal dispensaries with more opening daily. 18 states offer recreational cannabis, and 33 offer medical cannabis. 

With the rocket ship growth of the industry, there is great interest and concern in how the industry will verify and secure identity information of potential customers. Recreational cannabis is only available to persons over 21 years of age, but because the industry is so new ID laws have yet to catch up to the stringent requirements for sales of other age-restricted products. 

Sales to an underage consumer can put the dispensary license at risk.

“Our goal is 100 percent compliance,” said Washington State Liquor Control Board (who also manages dispensary licenses for the state) Chair Jane Rushford. “While perfect compliance is always a challenging goal, it is clearly in everyone’s interest that our licensees be vigilant about preventing underage sales.”

In most states a single violation means a fine and suspension of business for several days, while second and third offenses carry even stronger penalties. 

However, not all scanners and verification hardware is created equal. Here is a brief overview of some of our top-selling ID scanners for dispensaries. Each has its pros and cons.

E-Seek M280 Windows-Compatible Drivers License Scanner

This desktop device is one of our most popular ID scanners for dispensaries. It incorporates a sleek design with a large number of capabilities including, full-color image capture, 300 DPI camera which captures full-color images of the customer’s identification.

The device is USB powered so it doesn’t need a separate power supply. The M280 also has an onboard mag stripe reader for easy data collection in the event that a full-color image capture is not desired. However, a downside of the E-Seek M280 is…the lack of ability to scan both sides of the ID at the same time, which requires the user to flip over the ID to scan the reverse side, which can take precious time in high volume situations. It also cannot scan passports.

Panasonic FZ-N1 TOUGHBOOK Handheld ID Scanner

Second on the list but first in our hearts is the FZ-N1. This rugged military-grade handheld device is fast and powerful. It features all day battery life with the ability to swap batteries quickly. So it is ideal for high volume dispensaries or dispensaries where the check-in attendant may be moving around and is not sitting behind a stationary desk. 

The Panasonic FZ-N1 has WiFi and Bluetooth and available dual SIM cards for use in areas where wifi isn’t available, which also makes it one of the ideal ID scanners for dispensaries who do delivery – since it can be used anywhere. The camera is an 8-megapixel shooter to ensure quality scans every time. It also includes MRZ (machine recognizable zone) read capabilities. We highly recommend this device for front door or exterior customer ID scanning for dispensaries. Unfortunately, the FZ-N1 does not have UV or IR capabilities so the authentication abilities are not as robust as other options.

Thales AT9000 ID & Passport Scanner

The AT9000 has been around for many years and has stood the test of time. It has survived 3 corporate buyouts from 3M to Gemalto and is now owned by Thales. It is a desktop device with full-page, full-color image capture. The camera has a 400 DPI resolution for good image capture quality. So if you are looking to import pictures from IDs into a customer profile this is a fantastic option. Many of our dispensary clients like to attach photos to profiles so their budtenders can easily greet customers by name. 

The AT9000 features a removable hood which is great for outdoor use. You can also place the identification anywhere on the glass and the software will automatically take a straight squared off image. This is very useful in high-traffic environments when speed is key. It is also great at scanning passports, which some other readers struggle with, which makes it an ideal option if you are a dispensary that receives a lot of international guests, or have customers using passports as their ID. One downside to the AT9000 is also having to flip the image to scan both sides of the ID thus creating an additional step for the user.

Thales CR5400 Duplex Drop-In ID Scanner

This top load, drop in identification desktop scanner is also very popular. It is the only device capable of ID authentication which does not require a secondary power source and takes USB power. It quickly reads both sides of the identification in just 2 seconds and auto ejects the ID once finished. Features include color-coded LED status lights, a 630 DPI camera for excellent quality images, and MRZ (Machine Readable Zones) capabilities. Additionally, the CR5400 captures images in UV and IR light making it an excellent device for authentication. The only issue we encounter with the CR5400 is the need for regular maintenance and cleaning due to its motorized ID ejection system.

E-Seek M500 Forensic Document Reader

The E-Seek M500 is considered best-in-class when it comes to catching fake IDs. It is used by our largest dispensary customers and MSOs who are hyper-concerned with age verification. This workhorse is the dual-sided ID scanning flagship. It includes full-color ID scans with its onboard 600 DPI camera and also features a magstripe reader. Because of the extremely high image resolution the checks against our hologram and watermark libraries are extremely precise, which allows the M500 to catch the highest percentage of fake IDs. The motorized side load design offers quick and precise ID scanning. It’s so precise we use this scanner with our Age Restricted Vending System – this device simply has all the bells and whistles that will really allow you to verify IDs most accurately. It is also the fasted ID authentication device, able of authenticating most identity documents in 8 seconds or less.

The downside of the E-Seek M500 is that it is quite large. It takes up a lot of real estate and is a piece that will need a table to stand on. It also requires both USB input and a secondary power source. It also cannot scan passports.


As you can see, there is a high-quality ID scanner for just about every need for the cannabis industry. Feel free to contact us and a professional expert will assist you in deciding which scanner is right for you.

Another blog you may like: 3 Reasons ID Scanning is Crucial for Successful Dispensary Operation