Hottest Sectors Within Cannabis Technology
By: Abdus-Salaam Muwwakkil
As public perception towards medical marijuana starts to shift, cannabis startups are taking center stage in the world of entrepreneurship and venture capital. 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 at end to that stigma. Technology startups in particular play a huge role in legitimizing this industry to the point of going mainstream. Here are a few hot sectors in cannabis tech today:
Technologies that optimize energy efficiency will play a significant role in sustaining the Marijuana industry’s tremendous growth expectancy. One of the largest cannabis producing regions in the United States, California, is experiencing record-breaking droughts. Mitigating environmental risk exposures such as droughts will require conscious efforts that leverage the best Agra-Tech in production. Smart greenhouses equipped with natural energy efficiency are standard within traditional agriculture cultivation, but have yet been adopted at scale for cannabis and hemp cultivation. Green energy solutions that mitigate the negative effects of the environment present a golden opportunity for agra-tech to impact and drive growth within the cannabis market.
Product testing provides a method for establishing quality and credibility in the Marijuana industry. Some of the top concerns facing marijuana involve questions pertaining to the safety and consistency of its products and services. Precision testing in controlled environments will temper these concerns. One particular company, CannLabs, operates as a full service testing lab, offering as their core services 6 methods for testing cannabis properties:
- Potency Testing
- Residual Solvents Testing
- Microbial Testing
- Pesticide Testing
- Aflatoxin Testing
- Homogeneity Testing
This diverse array of testing demonstrates the many ways to test cannabis and guarantee consumer safety. Stakeholders in the Marijuana industry should manage other areas of the cannabis supply chain as well, including the growing conditions, the shelf-life, and the storage of cannabis. Enforcing these quality and control measures transparently can ensure a safe environment for marijuana consumption.
Manufacturing and Production
Proper extraction and distillation of cannabis is necessary to manufacture a diverse array of products ranging from oils, waxes, tinctures, oral strips, lip balms and even sexual enhancement lotions. Demand will rise for the human expertise necessary to build and operate specialized machinery that can critically extract cannabis into varying products.
Operations and Business Technology
Underlying software and hardware solutions will automate 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.
eCommerce And The On-Demand Economy
Traditional financial institutions remain at the wayside awaiting legal clarity at the Federal level. This presents a golden opportunity for startups and smaller firms to build web and mobile applications facilitating transnational commerce for consumers of cannabis. Access to accurate information enables informed purchasing decisions by customers who can now buy from the tip of their fingers. Amplified growth effects will occur via the pairing of marijuana based products with on-demand amenities such as real-time delivery services around food and groceries.
The cannabis industry is ripe with opportunity. Those that get in early will reap the benefits in the years to come. As the market grows and legislation spreads, expect the competition to get fierce.