While "cannabis entrepreneur" was interpreted as "drug dealer" just 10 years ago, the influx of credible companies and professionals into this industry is quickly putting an end to that stigma. From Silicon Valley to New York City, technology companies in particular play a huge role in legitimizing this industry to the point of going mainstream. Here are some of the hottest sectors in cannabis:
Sustainability matters, starting from the source. Consumers have a growing demand for sustainable products, and going green is good for the bottom line and mother earth. Advancements in AgraTech allow greater efficiency and effectivity creating better value for everyone throughout the supply chain.
Advancements outside of the Cannabis industry has allowed for cannabis integrations. These emerging technologies like vertical farming, greenhouse advancements, and drip farming can reduce resource expenditures for farmers. As we continue to urbanize, there is less space available at higher costs causing a need for more efficiency with space usage. Innovative AgraTech solutions in and outside of the cannabis industry are helping address this.
There have already been innovations integrating LEDs, sensors, and renewables into cannabis growing operations which have fostered sustainable advancements.
Self-contained greenhouses like the Seedo allow an offhand approach to growing, letting tech control everything from humidity, temperature, lighting, and nutrient delivery. The Seedo also allows for live-streaming so growers can monitor growth without disturbing the contained environment.
Harvesters like Surna are using advanced techniques like Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) to bolster resource efficiency and maximize yields. CEA allows growers to alter conditions like humidity, temperature, and water levels and include technologies like hydroponics and greenhouses or simpler tools like plastic covers. It also can be much less resource intensive, minimizing water and chemical usage. David Traylor, Surna’s Chief Business Officer told AgFunderNews that this system, “recycles the water throughout so that it can be reused over and over.” This system saves water and strengthens the bottom line.
eCommerce and Online Services
The growing accessibility of online retail, what some are calling the “shut in economy” has applicable ramifications for the cannabis industry as well. There is a cannabis emerging market demand for online discovery, purchasing, and services.
Cannabis delivery platform like Eaze and Grassp offer platforms for patients and consumers to safely receive marijuana without the need to leave home. Grassp allows their app users to schedule an appointment with a doctor then securely receive a delivery. EazeMD allows for on-demand doctors notes where patients can video chat with a doctor. 20 minutes later, if verified, patients receive a pdf doctor’s note.
The medical cannabis industry also poses growing trends for patient platforms as patients have a growing demand for digital learning and communications. These digital services help to provide a more patient-centric model by offering ways to allow caretakers to understand symptoms and treatment plans. They allow both a platform for reference and contact. Like with other treatments, it is important that these cannabis patient portals are compliant with laws like HIPAA.
Healer.com for example offers a program educating patients on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis led by medical cannabis expert Dr. Dustin Sulak. He has helped 18,000+ patients and is nationally regarded as an expert on medical cannabis.Their program provides patients with written content, wellness activities, videos, worksheets, and the opportunity to submit questions to Dr. Sulak.
Maryland offers a patient portal for cannabis patients to securely view their data. With access to the program, they can also look for medicine in neighboring states with their Patient Identification Cards.
Verify MC offers a patient portal where medical marijuana patients can do anything from getting directions, paying an invoice, or sending messages directly to their physicians.
Banking and Transactions
As we covered in our article on blockchain[*link to be added after posting], major financial institutions refuse to do business with legitimate cannabis technology companies. Online and retail locations are seeking legitimacy and secure financial solutions.
Companies like Tokken are stepping in order to provide solutions for those that want streamlined, legal banking methods. Tokken offers point-of-sales transactions across the blockchain without the need for use of cryptocurrencies.
Analysis like potency, microorganism, and pesticide testing are imperative for ensuring the safety of a product. Integrating a robust Quality Assurance program builds integrity for cannabis brands and protects them against regulatory punishments like recalls and fines. Testing also ensures high-quality products that do not contain molds, allergens, or other potentially harmful substances.
Cannabis testing labs perform tests on a crop to ensure their safety and provide information on areas like residual solvents, micro bacteria, aflatoxins, homogeneity, pesticide levels, and potency.
- Testing for pesticides: Organophosphates, Carbamates, Pyrethroids, and Avermectins.
- Microbiology testing: Aspergillus, Penicillium, Cladosporium, Alternaria, Yeasts and Escherichia Coli
- Potency Testing: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and Cannabinol (CBN)
Regulations vary state by state. Some areas, like the District of Columbia pose no regulations for medical marijuana while others like Illinois requires each batch to have intense laboratory screenings prior to manufacturing or processing. Growers can stay safe by partnering with a local testing facility. The Association of Commercial Cannabis Laboratories contains many members across legal states that help their business partners ensure their product is safe for consumers.
Cannabis businesses are increasing their business operations calling for more efficient processes from behind the scenes all the way to end users.
Underlying software and hardware solutions will automate or speed up the process in which people and businesses interact with cannabis. The opportunity is ripe for technologies that specialize in inventory and operation management of cannabis products, including POS systems, “Seed-to-Sale” tracking systems, and other accounting/sales management software.
Web and mobile platforms must be designed and developed in accordance to HIPAA compliance standards to protect the privacy rights of patient information in the database. Doctors and medical personnel must be able to access patient data to appropriately treat their clients. Intuitive user interfaces with secure backend technologies will require developers, designers, and legal experts to work hand in hand to build reliable platforms.
Marijuana currently faces more restrictive regulation than the liquor, tobacco, and gambling industries. As these regulations mature and ease the access for commercial, medical, and consumer use of marijuana, marketing will be essential for companies to drive customer growth. Marketing firms and creative strategies will play a key role in helping companies establish brand identities with their customer bases. It will be important to establish metrics and goals that measure the return on investments for new marketing and advertising channels. Personalized content distributed to niche target markets will be critical is winning customer loyalty.
Manufacturing & Production
The growing diversification of product set in the cannabis industry calls for more partners to assemble and create these different end products. There are many opportunities in the B2B and B2C sector to help throughout the supply chain from crop to dispensary. For example, there is a need for hardware sourcing and assembly for consumption technologies like vaporizers and their components or business technologies like spectrometers. Additionally, for the extraction and distillation of cannabis for the variety of end products ranging from lotions, tinctures, oils and waxes.
As these areas continue to grow, so will the demand for professional manufactures, producers, bankers, doctors, technologists and other professionals who all help supply reliable deliverables, components, and services that create a secure and legitimate industry.
The cannabis industry is ripe with opportunity. Those that get in early will reap the benefits in the years to come.