- With more and more Countries and States legalising cannabis, businesses need to find innovative new ways of keeping up with the increased demand
- Kate Harveston investigates how Tech companies are revolutionising the way cannabis patients and customers source and purchase legal medicinal and recreational cannabis
Written by Kate Harveston
Have you ever heard of Weedmaps? The online portal for finding and purchasing cannabis has made a name for itself by aggressively marketing a simple, convenient way to make purchasing legal cannabis simpler through technology.
But, one website is just the tip of the iceberg.
As more areas of the world legalise medical and recreational cannabis, the once illicit underground trade is becoming a booming business.
That means opportunity.
Demand is high, and with so many new technologies poised to reshape the consumer economy, cannabis is a great place to start.
The Birth of an Industry
This is not buying weed the way you knew it back in college.
Medical cannabis patients have to satisfy strict guidelines in most legalised places, with many seeking out specific strains of marijuana which are best suited to treat their symptoms.
Online portals are making this process more straightforward and can now provide services far beyond merely locating dispensaries and listing menu items.
How “telehealth” helps connect patients to their doctors
Websites must protect the privacy of patients using their services. Some are even able to put patients in contact with individual producers, with the option to schedule online consultations to discuss whether a specific product is right for them.
“Telehealth” is the term being used to refer to this new-age, technologically-enhanced patient experience.
These services are similar the portal one might use for your primary care physician. You can exchange messages with medical professionals, arrange for care, and keep track of your medical records.
What about patients who have never used medical marijuana?
Videoconferencing technology is now making the process of getting approved simpler than ever.
The Huffington Post recently tested teleconferencing services aimed at potential medical users.
In their blog post “Telemedicine Makes It Easy to Get Medical Marijuana,” a Post staffer recounts how one service, California-based Eaze, got him through the process in three minutes for a total cost of $30.
After a quick consultation to see why the patient was seeking medical marijuana, the doctor on the other side of the camera approved the request and gave sound advice on how to safely use cannabis for medical purposes.
Cannabis and the Brain
Had the new patient needed a recommendation about what kind of medicine to use, David Goldstein’s company PotBotics may have been the place to go.
Goldstein’s operation specializes in EEG brain scanning.
Working with a doctor, a new patient can undergo testing to see how different cannabis strains may affect their behavior.
PotBot: Bringing medical cannabis into the 21st Century
Due to the complex nature of cannabinoid rations, patients may not know whether an Indica, Sativa, or hybrid strain is the best choice to treat your symptoms.
PotBotics transforms the conversation by adding scientific evidence for what will be the most effective treatment.
Not only does the technology enhance patient confidence in the way they use cannabis, but it also strengthens the argument for the legitimacy of the drug and provides the FDA with clear data to support its medicinal benefits.
In America, many dispensaries now offer services to deliver your medicine directly to your door.
Like any legitimate business, drivers have to be paid and require proper insurance to perform delivery on-the-clock.
From a business point of view, it’s safer and cheaper to deliver the goods without getting a human involved.
That’s where drones come in.
Pipe Dream: Concept art for the possibility of drone-delivered cannabis… Maybe one day?
The same startup that HuffPost used to get a rapid medical prescription, Eaze, demonstrated one such system in 2017.
Unfortunately, for nearby California patients, state lawmakers stepped in just before the system was introduced to make delivery by drone illegal in California.
That doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility of other areas of the country and world using this system, or even future changes to the law.
Big Bud Data
Of course, not all technological advancement is happening on the patient side of things.
Bringing cannabis to the masses means opportunity for dispensaries and the other businesses that play a role in distribution.
By tracking sales and forecasting demand, companies can right-size their operation for maximum profitability.
Through the implementation of data acquisition services, the online portals and dispensaries patients frequent will be able to identify the most popular strains and edible products, see bottlenecks in delivery schedules, and prepare for slow parts of the growing season where certain strains might get low.
The End of Stigma
We are still in the early days of medical marijuana being a culturally accepted idea on a wide scale, but as the cannabis industry develops, more people will begin to see this medicine for what it is.
The words we use to describe medical marijuana use will cease to be associated with illicit drugs and society will get more comfortable with benefits of the drug.
That day is not so far off now.
With both medical and recreational laws loosening across the world, it’s more a matter of “when” than “if.”
That means money to be made, and you can bet the tech industry won’t be far behind as medical marijuana becomes more widely available.