Internet of Things Meets Marijuana

By: Alex Topchishvili

As a tech company in an emerging market, we’re often asked to comment on the role of the “Internet of Things” (#IoT for all you social maniacs) in cannabis. The problem with the current use of the phrase is that like any new trending topic, people try to capitalize on it at every opportunity to create buzz. Unfortunately this has left a lot of people confused. Yes, marijuana is going where every successful digital business has gone before – Eaze is Uber, MassRoots is Instagram, StonerSingles is Tinder, and Leafly is Yelp – but does that fall under “Internet of Things meets cannabis”?

The answer is no. The Internet of Things in cannabis does not entail anything and everything to do with the convergence of the Internet and marijuana. What it does refer to is the process of connecting cannabis-related devices with an on/off switch to the Internet and to one other, each optimized for data collection. The more interactions and inquiries each connected device goes through, the more insights and capabilities the cannabis industry can benefit from. Here are a few actual examples of Internet of Things in cannabis:

  • Solar powered, wi-fi connected garden sensors are streaming data on temperature, light, humidity, and soil acidity to the cloud, to then be analyzed by cannabis cultivators to optimize, regulate, and automate the entire harvest cycle. This enables growers to breed plants remotely and with predicable outcomes that benefit specific ailments.
  • Regulatory bodies are using radio frequency identification technology (RFID) for digital tracking of cannabis plants from seed to sale to shut out the black market and ensure product quality and consistency. Each new plant is issued a RFID tag with a unique 24-digit ID number, which is entered into the government’s digital database. When the plant is harvested, the leaves and buds are shipped to cannabis dispensaries with a new RFID tag and a printed label detailing its origins and chemical breakdown. The database is updated at every step – from seed to sale.
  • Medical cannabis pharmaceutical companies and testing labs are embracing the concept of personalized medicine from research and development to commercializing. Every device and experiment is supported by online electronic records, decision support systems, and tests analyzing specific biomarkers.
  • With BrainBot, a PotBotics product, general practitioners will very soon be able to use a wireless EEG device to measure and quantify a patient’s’ neural response to cannabinoid stimulants so that the right strain and cannabinoid level can be recommended, eliminating the need for trial and error. The scientific data from the EEG tests will be fed into the PotBot CloudTM and leveraged in PotBot, our medical cannabis recommendation engine that recommends cannabinoid levels, custom strains, and consumption methods to patients via in-store kiosks, desktop, and mobile apps.

At the center of this trend is data mining – the process of turning raw data into useful information. Data mining capabilities are being integrated into the core architecture of more and more cannabis related devices with an on/off switch. The data acquired from these connected devices provides valuable insights for doctors, cultivators, dispensaries, and contract research organizations that both educate patients and allow for more personalized and effective cannabis treatment.