Trends in Cannabis: Utilizing Technology
Whether you voted for or against it, legal cannabis is here to stay. More than six in 10 Americans (62%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, and several states and the District of Columbia have already legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use, and more states allow medical use of cannabis.
With cannabis being legalized in an ever-increasing number of markets across the country and around the world, sales are likely to be higher than ever, but the fledgling cannabis sector is more prone to rapid trend changes than others. Comprehensive and uniform regulation is lacking, methods of consumption are evolving and investments are difficult to predict.
One indisputable trend, however, is the use of technology.
Today, technology companies are taking advantage of the nascent green rush to develop gadgets and platforms aimed at making the growth, compliance, sales and all other aspects of the marijuana industry easier. From cannabis-specific apps and software to hardware and business-consumer platforms, cannabis tech is booming.
Automation of Your Operation
Automation is increasing productivity and efficiency across industries, and legal cannabis is no exception. In the garden, automation can control everything from lighting and temperature to the climate, the application of nutrients and even compliance with state regulations.
Using automation technologies can streamline the most tedious, time-consuming tasks in a grow operation, eliminating costly mistakes and reducing a considerable amount of labor along the way. Whether syncing watering and light cycles with automated timers or keeping track of inventory and weights, growth stages and any movement the plants have done within a cannabis grow through an automated data entry system, automation has the ability to improve performance in cultivation, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging, compliance and distribution.
Even better, a number of automated platforms streamline employee workflows by automatically signing them in and out so managers can keep better track of who is doing what, holding employees accountable for tasks performed on the floor and in the garden.
As automated technologies advance, those of us at GeoShepard believe the use of largely automatic equipment and platforms will expand to impact every aspect of the seed-to-sale supply chain in a positive manner.
While a myriad of cannabis industry-specific point-of-sale (POS) systems exist on the market today, none of the platforms are vertically integrated to cater to multistate organizations. No current solutions meet every need of every cannabis organization, so the development of POS platforms that tackle the highly specialized requirements the cannabis space necessitates will be a game changer.
More than just a straightforward way to process payments, the cannabis sector needs systems that operate under a much stricter and more complex set of rules and regulations than your typical retail store. From the actual sales of cannabis products to inventory, securely managing customer records, maintaining compliance with local and state regulations and much more, standard POS systems do not provide the broad range of functionality required for retail cannabis operations.
We believe the best systems will check all of those boxes while also being easy to use, coming equipped with an integrated inventory management system and automatic compliance reporting and featuring a layout that enables simple training and data entry.
Use of the Cloud
Data is critical in every industry — even one as fledgling as legal cannabis. Whether discussing growing plants, customer and order management, task management or compliance with state and federal regulations, cloud-based platforms are enabling cultivators, employees and other stakeholders in the cannabis space to capture relevant data and drive efficiency across cannabis operations.
Today, cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud offer unparalleled storage and processing power, offering businesses across industries increased efficiencies. Best of all, these cloud-based platforms can be accessed from any internet-enabled smart device. Migrating your data to the cloud also ensures that it is always available and retrievable at any time.
From seed to sale, there are numerous aspects that can be improved throughout the cannabis growth cycle to improve the entire process. Gathering data and storing it in the cloud today can enable early adopters the ability to monetize that data by optimizing the seed-to-sale lifecycle down the road.
Today, there still remains a stigma surrounding smoking marijuana. As such, companies on the industry’s cutting edge are working to meet the market’s appetite for beverages and edibles through improved extraction technologies. Before any CBD oil, THC tincture, weed butter or cannabis concentrate can be ingested, it, first, must be extracted.
Extracts remain difficult to make fully water-soluble, which is problematic when developing the highest quality beverages, edibles, tinctures and other products designed not to be combusted. Whether highlighting ultrasound-assisted extraction, hydrodynamic extraction, nano-encapsulation or nano-emulation technologies aimed at making CBD isolates fully water soluble, enabling consistent dosing, protecting aromatic compounds or promoting bioavailability, the ability to create rapid on-set tinctures, edibles and beverages will take some of the guesswork out of edible consumption, ultimately appealing to all consumers.
From automation and POS systems to the promise of the cloud and cutting-edge extraction technologies, it does not appear that utilizing technology is one trend outgrowing the cannabis space. Whether improving performance in cultivation, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packaging or distribution, enhancing efficiencies in the garden or developing the cleanest, most efficient, healthiest and most discreet cannabis products for consumption, the role technological innovation plays in the cannabis space is significant and only set to grow.