Cannabis legalization is gaining serious steam, and the industry is coming to a crossroads as nationwide demand for legal cannabis skyrockets. With dispensaries popping up on seemingly every street corner in legalized cities, there's bound to be a bounceback sooner than later. A constriction in the supplier market will weed out many non-essential companies, and those that survive will, among other things, take advantage of emergent technologies to lower costs and maximize margins.
These industry insiders weigh in on which technologies will play a role in the future of the cannabis industry, and what those roles may look like:
1. Gunhee Park, Founder of Populum
“CBD extracts are still very tricky to make fully water-soluble. As the nano-encapsulation technology to make CBD isolates fully water soluble becomes more common and available, I believe CBD will become even more widespread. I believe that's when mainstream beverage companies would even start infusing CBD. There have been rumors of beverage companies, such as Coca-Cola being interested in creating CBD infused drinks.”
2. Allison Margolin, Attorney at Margolin and Lawrence and Medical Marijuana Advocate
“As with every market, convenience is key in the cannabis industry. Following the legalization of recreational marijuana we have noticed a boom in the technology industry; new cannabis-specific apps, softwares, hardwares, and business-consumer platforms are being developed every day. Smartphone apps such as Eaze that provide delivery services are going to have a significant impact on the industry. These apps allow consumers to select from a wide variety of cannabis products from multiple businesses and have the products delivered to their homes within minutes. Just as we have seen food delivery apps such as Postmates and Uber Eats take off in recent years, I anticipate we will see the same trend with cannabis delivery apps.”
3. WIll Stewart, Senior VP, Corporate & Public Affairs at Harvest One
“With the cannabis market slowly migrating from black market to a legal one, the industry as a whole will have to take its cues from other, traditional, consumer products. This is particularly true in consistency of product. Using technology to compare lots, strains, and potency in a quick, standardized, and easily digestible ways. We as an industry owe it to our customers and patients to ensure that when a strain of 8 Ball Kush is sold as such that it is 8 Ball Kush. Many times, as genetics move around and adopt names, the strains are not consistently the same across different entities. Some may say that names do not matter. Perhaps, but as consumers become more sophisticated so too much our own offerings.”
4. Avis Bulbulyan, CEO of Siva Enterprises
“When looking at how tech would impact the cannabis industry, it’s important to understand the needs of the industry. Generally, this industry is no different than many other industries and it has all of the same business needs that most businesses have. The Schedule One nature of cannabis along with the general misunderstanding of cannabis as a plant for so long has led to a greater need for compliance and transparency when setting up these businesses.
With that in mind, blockchain has the greatest potential for industry impact because it addresses a big technology need this industry has. The relative newness of blockchain and the chaos of the cannabis industry will cause a slower adoption of blockchain, but its application in the industry is inevitable.”
5. Jamie Shaw, Partner at Groundwork Consulting, Cannabis Advisor and Lobbyist
“Technology is sometimes too broad of a term, and the industry is definitely too broad for sweeping declarations. UV tech, Hvac’s and blockchain are all things that can be vital to some operations but don’t mean much to others. I think with all the stigma around smoking, the desire for beverages and edibles will only increase as extraction technology catches up, but for these companies, I believe it will be Nano-emulation that will make or break them. Creating fast on-set food and beverages will appeal to all consumers and take some of the guesswork out of edible consumption.”
6. Jennifer Romolini, Editor in Chief at cannabisMD
“We recently developed the cannabisMD Knowledge Navigator(tm) which is a platform that combines advanced analytical tools with A.I. technology to identify what people actually want from cannabis brands based on their behaviors online – both in search and in social. We expect this to have a huge impact for both content creators and marketers looking to expand their reach and serve up what cannabis consumers are looking for in an informed, targeted, intentional way.”
7. Jim Pakulis, CEO of Transcanna
“Automation has begun to, and will have a significant impact over the next three to five years. Specifically, the ability to decrease man hours by up to 80 percent at some indoor grows results higher quality biomass, on a regular basis, and a significant decrease in overhead. I believe that automation will expand and effect all aspects of the seed to sale supply chain in a positive way.”
8. Richard Harrington, Founder and CEO of Vaital Organics
“Scientists have concluded that the extent of Cannabis and hemp does not end with its medicinal benefits. The fibers and oils in the plant have been used for millennia to create fabric and other textiles. However, studies have been done on the creation of major building materials and plastics using cannabis and hemp. We believe that developing these technologies will revolutionize the textile and building material industry. It is very plausible we will be living and working in homes made almost entirely of cannabis or hemp. It could also be said that most plastics and polymers will be replaced with material made using cannabis or hemp.”
9. Mike Sassano, Founder of Solaris Farms
“I’m looking forward to post harvest technologies like drying and contaminate
mitigation. As more and more regulations are created to correctly protect the
consumers, drying and curing the product should become more automated, faster,
uniform and also be used to reduce contamination factors of the final products.”
10. Andrew Glashow, President, COO, & Director of Cannabis Life Sciences
“The industry needs a vertically-integrated point of sales platform. All of the systems currently in place do some things well, but don’t do everything. Because of this, we have been through three different platforms and are always looking for a solution that meets all of our needs. We are hoping someone will be able to create a true vertically integrated platform that will cater to multistate seed to sale operators. That will be a massive winner. ”
11. Sam Morrison, Cannabis Researcher for Glacier Wellness
“Cannabis Extraction Methods – Cannabis extraction used to be left to the pros in labs, but many recent technological developments have made it easier than ever. As a result, many regular cannabis users feel comfortable with a variety of extraction methods and are creating their own concoctions from home. It's hard to say exactly what consequences this will have, but it's clear that many people will use it to start their own small businesses with their personal homemade creations.”
12. Serge Chistov, Financial Partner at Honest Marijuana Company
“There will be a new generation of edibles and topicals. I'm talking about a nanotechnological approach that turns non-water-soluble substances like cannabinoids into nano-size so they can be added into transdermal patches, topical lotions, and more for the cleanest, most efficient, healthiest, and most discreet cannabis consumption. This would allow for a smokeable-like effect without the smoking. Products made with nanotechnology are effective, as you don't need to consume a lot to get the desired effect. It
is also healthy, because they allow you to obtain medical benefits from marijuana without smoking and sacrificing your health in exchange.”
13. Jorge Cervantes, Publisher at Van Patten Publishing and MarijuanaGrowing.com
“Internet communications. We can post prices, disseminate information including technical, news, buy/sell, and investment details. This increases trade velocity and globalises the marketplace. Third World nations have access to information not available before. Many countries including Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Jamaica, etc. will become major cannabis producers.”
14. Kim Rael, President and CEO of Azuca
“More precise and faster acting technology, especially with the increasing interest and consumption of edibles. Consumers want to enjoy cannabis products socially and in real time instead of feeling effects hours later. Having a predictable and controllable experience each time will be key for successful edible products. Complementing a great taste, people will seek rapid release – quick onset time, high bioavailability and consistent dosing. This will be the linchpin for successful, sustainable cannabis companies.”
15. Ashley Grace, Chief Marketing Officer of HempFusion
“Cannabinoid extraction technologies will continue to evolve in a manner consistent with the trend toward garnering more cannabinoids, terpenes, and omegas. Today most manufacturers inadvertently strip out other cannabinoids, terpenes and omegas as part of their harsh CBD extraction processes. While the resulting CBD oils are marketed as being “full-spectrum”, they generally contain no other cannabinoids and only traces of terpenes and omegas. Unique, less-refined cannabinoid extraction techniques will begin to emerge that will yield more whole plant nutrients to support a growing variety of healthy products.”
16. Neil Yorio, VP of Research at BIOS Lighting
“In the next year, we’ll see an even greater adoption rate of LEDs in production environments due to the successful transition and integration of this lighting technology into the cannabis industry, as well as other crop production industries. In the next five years, we expect LED transition to be the majority of the lighting used in the cannabis industry. It will follow the adoption of LED lighting technology for the general illumination market. Five years ago the challenge with LED grow lighting was validating how it performed against traditional/legacy lighting technology. Today, it’s what LED brand or product to choose from.”
17. Charlie Finnie, Chief Strategy Officer at MariMed Inc.
“There are many new and innovative delivery technologies. The winning
technologies will provide safe, clean, precision-dosed and smoke-free delivery
of THC, CBD and other beneficial compounds from these plants.
Today, law enforcement and corporations do not have a reliable test to determine impairment from cannabis since THC stays in the bloodstream for days following consumption – long after any impairment dissipates. The company that develops an accurate test will be a boon to the cannabis industry as cannabis users will be able to plan their consumption to minimize the possibility of testing positive when working or driving. To date there is no clear winning technology in this area.”
18. Chris Gooch, Lawyer for Fennemore Craig, P.C. with a specialty in Cannabis law
“I foresee the testing technology as having a larger impact on the industry as customers and possibly regulators require consistency and quality of product. With many new strains being cultivated, it will be critical for retailers to provide customers with accurate data as to the contents of any particular batch so that customers can reliably obtain the product best suited to their needs.”
19. Jeremy Szafron, Journalist and Host of The Green Scene podcast
“Different Delivery Methods: Whether it goes through your liver and digestive track or your blood stream, technologies delivering cannabis is evolving rapidly. We first saw people vaporizing black oils, with terrible crude quality— its evolved. The industry is looking for more discreet and effective way to consume, as our body is a miraculous thing and acts as a natural filter. Every day, in most industry board rooms, executives are talking about IP and the next way to deliver cannabis.”
20. Prad Sekar, CEO of CB2 Insights
“As we continue to witness the maturation of the cannabis industry, the need for credible cannabis data has never been more pertinent. Cannabis remains one of the only drugs in history to have entered the market without standard clinical trials to support its growth within the medical community. As the industry progresses, clinical studies are leaning more towards leveraging real-world data / real-world-evidence which involves a broader range of patient data from health records, insurance databases, health apps and other purpose-built data collection tools. Real-world evidence involves collecting data outside of traditional randomized clinical trials – which has previously been considered the primary way to evaluate new medical treatments. These efforts are an example of how credible data is driving a much more robust look at the efficacy break the stigma behind medical cannabis and bring its true efficacy to light to the market.”
21. Brad Nattrass, CEO of urban-gro
“Artificial Intelligence- cannabis grows can now be monitored at the individual plant level through low-cost sensors and computing poweràself-learning algorithms that are driven by quality data will improve any crop’s harvest”
22. Alexon Bell, Head of AML Compliance, at data analytics startup Quantexa
“Federal laws have limited the cannabis industry’s access to the traditional banking system, forcing many legal suppliers to operate solely in a cash-based market that isn’t properly monitored, regulated or taxed. Not only does this pose a significant riskto the entire industry, but also third parties – equipment sellers, landowners, transporters, etc. – looking to work with cannabis companies, who also face significant cost-benefit risks from a financial, reputational and legal standpoint.
Big data and analytics will play a critical role in helping to contain and manage this risk within the industry. Platforms leveraging advanced data analytics coupled with automated intelligence will allow businesses to aggregate, analyze and connect vast numbers of data points and entities to help identify bad actors within the network, thereby helping to purge illegitimate and potentially criminal activity. With this type of intelligence and insight, businesses across the cannabissupply chain can make better informed decisions about where the greatest risk exposure lies.”
23. Ken Newman, CEO of DMA | Digital Marketing Agency
“States that allow medical and recreational marijuana have started legalizing online cannabis delivery services, and this technology will transform the industry for the better. It will reduce the attraction of illicit delivery services, which have been causing problems for unwitting consumers and cutting into legal dispensaries’ bottom lines. The improved access to marijuana will increase consumer demand, especially with medical marijuana patients who have mobility challenges. The state of Colorado just legalized delivery services in May and more states are sure to follow suit, such as Michigan, which has approved three delivery services so far.”
24. Vadim Fedorovsky, Founder of CBD School
“The vape tech and the extraction tech.
The vape tech is getting better and better and providing less of a reason to inhale harmful smoke. There will always be a place for people who want to use smokable flower, but the vaping tech is getting stronger and more customized.
The extraction tech for making the finest CBD tinctures and products. This is why CBD is showing up in everything. We have the tech now for brands to make products that people 10 years ago in cannabis never dreamed of.”
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