Technology is rapidly adapting to the cannabis industry. Whether it is working towards improvements on the agriculture side or creating cannabis friendly social media, technology is being used to solve some challenging issues in this new industry. We asked some insiders on how technology has affected the cannabis industry
Kyle Sherman, CEO of Flowhub, a point-of-sale software specially designed for the cannabis industry
Technology has already had a noticeable impact on legalization. For example, if a product is found to have pesticide residue, that product can be tracked back to the source grower/plant batches used in the production of that product. Immediately these products can be recalled and pulled of the shelf. In fact over the past month we’ve seen the MED pull recalled products at least a half a dozen times. This is a sign of the system working. We’re keeping customers safe and healthy. You simply don’t get this kind of transparency with a black market.
David Goldstein, CEO of PotBotics, a start-up developing EEG brain scan technology that would allow doctors to recommend specific strains of medical marijuana based on the results of a scan.
I would argue that it absolutely has already made an impact on society, and a positive one at that. Without clear FDA testing, patients are required to educate themselves about cannabis and its effects. At PotBotics, we have created a turnkey solution for patients to educate themselves about cannabis and what studies have been done for their specific ailments and needs. This has created more confident patients that can access the industry with a higher transparency than was previously available.
Paul Warshaw, CEO of GreenRush, a patient-centered cannabis delivery platform with more product and dispensary options than any other company in the CA space.
Just in the past year, using technology to order cannabis online has become normalized in certain markets, especially in tech and cannabis-rich California. The world is already used to ordering goods and services delivered online from a website – why not cannabis? We shop at Amazon to acquire the best deals and greatest variety of products, use Lyft to hail a ride home from someone who happens to be a mere few blocks away, and have Postmates deliver anything under the sun – save cannabis – to our door.
What’s your favorite cannabis tech product/service on the market these days, save for your own?
Sherman: In Colorado we use Franwell’s METRC system statewide, which is probably one of the most advanced digital tools in our industry. They won the state contracts in CO, OR, and Alaska. METRC provides unique RFID tags that are attached to individual plants and batches of plants called packages. This helps prevent diversion from the legal industry to the black market, and also stops illegally grown product from coming into the legal market like we’ve seen in non-METRC states. METRC also gives governments better metrics when it comes to understanding the industry in their state, allowing policy makers to make data driven decision.
Goldstein: Storz & Bickel. The German vaporizing company has been innovating medical grade vaporizers since 1998. They are most known for their Volcano Vaporizer that remains the “go to” choice for medical cannabis patients, but it is their continued innovation in smart technology and quality that I find most impressive. Their Crafty Vaporizer, which integrates with patients using their smartphones so they can vaporize at appropriate temperatures, has created a way for patients to get quality vaporization on the go. It’s exciting to see what they will come out with next.
Warshaw: Data is top of mind for every industry at the moment, and the cutting edge of cannabis is deep in it. Our friends over at Headset are developing world-class data functionality for an industry coming out of the dark ages of pencils and black book ledgers. Headset offers retailers data-driven analytics to optimize a modern cannabis business. Knowing the brilliance of their crew, however, we’re expecting even more robust functionality from Headset in coming months.
Predictions for cannabis tech in 2016?
Sherman: Hopefully we start seeing states learn from our experiences here in Colorado when it comes to establishing seed to sale tracking on a state level. This is a new industry and we’re still writing the rule book, but we have some incredible examples of working regulated systems like CO. It’s a must that state legislators educate themselves when it comes to technology and the cannabis space because there is tech available that gives them better information about the industry and better transparency over operating businesses.
Goldstein: Every major industry in America leverages data as a predictive tool for cost-effective decisions. In 2015, several cannabis tech companies created impressive offerings that harnessed the power of big data and applied it to the cannabis industry by capturing user/patient demographics and analyzing market trends to create sophisticated predictive models. 2016 promises to see a large increase in the volume, velocity, and variety of cannabis-related data, as well as technology that will assist various stakeholders to address inherent challenges. Data-centric innovations promise to be some of the most exciting innovations 2016 will yield.
Warshaw: Cannabis technology is the space to watch in 2016. With legal developments across the country you’re going to see turbocharged interest, investment, and tech development in cannabis fueled by massive expansion of cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and consumption across the world. The only question is, can public regulation and enforcement keep up with consumer demand for an end to prohibition? Governments will realize soon enough that in order to reap the windfall of cannabis profits and attendant benefits, they must embrace new technologies providing access to age-old medicine.