3 Ways IT Will Revolutionize the Cannabis Industry

By Amelia B.
The future of cannabis in the US is uncertain, especially in the current political climate. One thing we can say with reasonable certainty is that technology will continue to play an increasing role in the cannabis industry. Looking at breaking developments in various canna-business verticals, the future of the sector is likely to be largely autonomous.

With most of the population walking around carrying tiny supercomputers in their pockets, technology is more ingrained into our daily lives than it has ever been in history. Here are the three ways we believe cannabis will revolutionize the cannabis industry.

1. Weed Vending Machines

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The first of these self-serve cannabis dispensary machines was unveiled in Seattle in 2015, so it's been a thing for a while now. Expect these beauties to become more sophisticated and begin to pop up all over the place in the next 10 years as more states begin to legalize recreational marijuana.

When they first popped up in Seattle three years ago, they were always staffed with an attendant who verified Medical Marijuana IDs and was there in a budtender capacity. The machines themselves now have the capability to scan IDs to verify the user’s identity, so for states that have legalized recreationally, it is possible to have unattended kiosks.

There are currently a few companies that have stand-alone vending machines and match the ID entered with the person standing at the kiosk via biometrics. These machines have been largely unsuccessful thus far, with users experiencing technological glitches.

In response to negative feedback from dispensary vendors and customers alike. American Green recalled all of its Zazzz machines in December 2015. They did an overhaul on the machines and have reintroduced an improved version.

Part of the reason these machines have not done well is said to be that these kiosks have been primarily located inside dispensaries. If a customer has taken the trouble to drive to an actual dispensary, they might as well head up to the counter and receive budtender services.

If these were located in more convenient spots, like outside of gas stations and grocery stores, for example, they may do much better in terms of sales. Pharmacies may decide to house these kiosks for medical marijuana as well.

In the future, it’s not an unreasonable expectation that we will see these kiosks replacing your neighborhood’s sad, outdated Redbox machines.

2. Robots for Harvesting and Cultivation

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As automation becomes more prevalent across all farming industries, we are seeing more self-driving tractors and crop-monitoring and watering drones. Harvesting the highly sensitive crop of marijuana is a complicated and tedious process that has proven tricky for robots.

One company called Bloom Automation is very close to the deployment of smart robots that are able to harvest marijuana more efficiently than humans. Jon Gowa, CEO of Bloom, says, ”It’s been done by hand because the product you want is very specific. A traditional machine would chop it up.”

Some of the larger suppliers have been using tumblers that sift out desirable portions of the plants, but that process can be damaging to the tender buds. “We saw a need to automate the process in a way that treats it as an organic product as opposed to a homogenous product.”

They taught their robots to use machine vision and path planning algorithms that will isolate the flower clusters. "The system segments the plant into three parts, the flower, branch, and leaf,” Gowa explains. By being able to identify the parts of the plant, the robots can efficiently us clippers to accurately cut intact flowers from the plants.

The algorithm the robots are currently using works with 97% accuracy. Bloom Automation plans to achieve twice the efficiency of human harvesters within 8 months.

3. Financial Transactions and Investments

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One challenge we will continue to face in the US, at least until decriminalization legislation passes, is processing financial transactions. Most nationally operating banks and financial institutions are unwilling to face the potential risks of providing services for businesses that are still considered federally illegal.

In this country, we are so used to being able to use a debit card wherever we go, that most of us no longer even carry cash. When dispensaries first opened, it added an extra step for consumers to have to visit an ATM before purchasing their pot.

The introduction to legitimate debit payment systems like CanPay or Marqeta has already revolutionized payment processing for dispensaries and other canna-businesses. These applications use smartphones or QR codes to direct debit customers bank accounts, effectively bypassing traditional debit processing transactions by acting as a 3rd party go-between.

Expect more payment innovations to continue bypassing bank authority.

This same problem exists for venture capitalists, if in an exceedingly more economically privileged way. High-risk industries such as canna-businesses face the same legality challenges with financial institutions. An alternative to operating on a solely cash-basis is badly needed.

MoneyTrac, a financial company catering to the cannabis industry, is now able to provide a web-based customizable payment system powered by Blockchain technology. They offer fast and secure payment options that serve as a go-between from financial institutions to canna-businesses.

These capabilities stand to overhaul everything from Investments to payroll processing.

The Future Depends on Politics-VOTE!!!

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As mentioned above, no one knows for sure what the future holds for cannabis in the US, as there are still a large number of legislators in power fighting for federal executive jurisdiction in legalized states. There are increasing numbers of people campaigning for entrance to the legislative branch that supports legalization. But they cannot elect themselves.

The extremes within the realm of possibilities are that marijuana could be descheduled and decriminalized within a year or two, or that protections against state’s rights could be federally revoked and the previously legitimate canna-businesses criminally prosecuted.

It is likely that neither of those changes will happen before 2020, but it all depends on who is in power in Washington, and how hard the public pushes their elected officials on this issue. Do not sit idly by and let others decide the future of cannabis for you. Make sure you get to the polls on November 6th!

Citations

1.News Editor Marijuana Kiosk & Cannabis. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://kioskindustry.org/cannabis-and-the-kiosk-industry/

2. Klever Garden Launches Its Automated Grow Device Set to 'Wow' Cannabis Growers. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.newswire.com/news/klever-garden-launches-its-automated-grow-device-set-to-wow-cannabis-20610752

3.Kelly McSweeney Autonomous tractors could turn farming into a desk job. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.zdnet.com/article/autonomous-tractors-could-turn-farming-into-a-desk-job/

4. BLOOM AUTOMATION. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.bloomautomation.com/

5.Jason Perlow Medical marijuana: How IT can spark the budding cannabis industry. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.zdnet.com/article/medical-marijuana-how-it-can-spark-the-budding-cannabis-industry/

6.CannabisNewsWire Cannabis Industry Leads the Way in Payments Revolution. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cannabis-industry-leads-the-way-in-payments-revolution-680668141.html

About the author: Amelia B.

Amelia B is a wife, a preschool teacher, and a mother of two young children. She enjoys camping, hiking, cooking, reading, traveling, listening to live local music, refurbishing furniture, and creating works of art.