We are looking at a changed world. The cannabis industry is enjoying great success and more legal and societal acceptance than ever before. At the same time, marijuana advocates need to be alert in a landscape of ever-changing regulations.
Investors are waking up to the promise of this still-new industry – cannabis stocks are hot! Believe us, we know! Tech brings opportunities to grow the industry further, with advances in agricultural technology, DNA sequencing, and stronger retail opportunities. Safe banking practices are more important than ever to protect cannabis consumers and retailers.
Techies and Tokers
Many are aware of the link between marijuana and those who work in the tech industry. There is an old joke that pot smoking is an unspoken requirement in tech! It makes sense that there would be a special affinity for cannabis among tech workers, with the high stress and long hours that can be inherent to those roles. Innovation requires creative minds, and we like to think that smoking furthers creative thinking.
In a post-legalization world, coders have been able to get together to share knowledge. There are many unknowns, but accumulated tech know-how is helping the marijuana industry to keep the wave of success surging.
A Growth Industry
Marijuana growing is very labor-intensive. But by using technology to automate some of that labor, and to fine-tune the planning of the growth process, tech can bring higher yields with lower costs. Automated grow rooms, once the thing of dreams are now practically a reality.
Apps are being used with automation to manage the growing climate – watering, temperature, humidity, lighting, and nutrient application. Electronic timers add precision. More growers are learning how to gather data during growing cycles and use it to maximize growth and profits.
LED lighting is one recent innovation that is making a big difference with indoor growing. Marijuana plants are thirsty for light, and LEDs are ideal for meeting that need. They produce much less heat than other types of bulbs. Automation in lighting arrays can tie in with the efficiency of the overall production design. Hygrometers (which measure the humidity in the air), ultrasonic misters, and dehumidifiers are all devices that can also be automated and programmed.
The Dutch for the Win
In the Netherlands, new farming techniques have produced stellar results with conventional crops (they are exporting almost as much food as the U.S. with a tiny fraction of the land). Using greenhouses and vertical farming techniques that use almost no soil or pesticides and very little water, Dutch growers have shown how the world can meet the nutritional needs of the future. The expert farmers of the Netherlands can lead cannabis growers across the world to new and better techniques.
A Code of Another Type
Things get even more futuristic when you consider the possibilities of DNA sequencing. The cracking of the cannabis code will enable producers to customize blends for customers. DNA analysis can help growers to select seedlings with the properties they desire.
New technologies are making the challenges of biosynthesis – the extraction of cannabinoids (THC and CBD) — easier. Some consumers want specific levels of cannabinoids and terpenes, new profiles that bring different flavors and strengths to their smokes. Chemists and engineers have brought methods developed by other botanical extraction applications to the cannabis industry, with growing success.
Extraction technology has successfully made new concentrates available. It has been predicted that sales of concentrates could be around $14 billion by 2026.
Legality has brought countless benefits in some states, but it also brings pressure to the industry to do everything correctly. Producers and consumers need protections in place to make sure the right people have access to the right products.
Internal tracking systems – called seed-to-sale – are designed to prevent product abuse. They can also help the cannabis industry to set standards for product safety, supply chain oversight and medicinal quality.
The systems help restrict access of cannabis to certain groups, such as minors or those with criminal records. New software design helps keep customers’ and patients’ information private and safe. Products are easy to track, and dispensaries and growers can be kept compliant with new regulations.
A Safe Harbor
Banking and finance are still in the old world in some ways. Because marijuana is still illegal federally, cannabis companies cannot process money the same way that mainstream companies do.
The SAFE (Secure and Fair Enforcement) Banking Act has just been reintroduced in both houses of Congress. It has support from both major parties and is expected to pass.
The SAFE Act would create a “safe harbor” to protect credit unions and federal depository institutions that work with marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) and ancillary companies in legal states. Loans could be processed, and minority cannabis operations could borrow funds more easily.
The need for many MRBs to operate entirely in cash makes them more vulnerable to robbery and money laundering. Under the SAFE Act, the risks for MRBs would be lessened and their employees could feel more secure.
A Bright Future
It’s a great time for tech to be more integrated into the world of cannabis. Better growth, more choices, more safety, more financial security will all play a role in this bright future.
Technical advancements for cannabis-based businesses will bring us farther into this new world. We know that further innovations will lead to better business processes, more effective products, and happier consumers!