The cannabis industry is booming. As cannabis approaches legal status, business owners and investors are flocking to the seemingly untouched cannabis market. Even with all of this attention, the cannabis community is still lacking the basic technologies that every other consumables industry relies on to operate.

Forbes recently published an article about the gaps in cannabis technology, and while there are certainly organizations trying to solve some of these voids, it has become increasingly clear that cannabis needs better technology. In order to achieve this, the cannabis industry must do more to attract more developers and designers. Inviting more technologists into the cannabis space will help fulfill the demand for business insight tools that also tackle industry regulations and marketing issues.

Smoke Reports developed our powerful cannabis API specifically for developers who want to enter the cannabis space with substantial data already at their fingertips. Our API offers a foundation for educational, business, and consumer applications. As more developers begin to use the API, we continually have conversations about what our clients desire from cannabis technology. In an effort to inspire future cannabis projects, we will highlight some of the most noticeable gaps that our cannabis API intends to solve.

Why the Industry Needs Better Technology

In order to determine where the biggest gaps lie in cannabis technology, it helps to understand why cannabis needs better technology. The cannabis industry is rapidly shifting to a more legitimate social status, and this means that businesses will be required to operate under much stricter regulations and standards. Cannabis technology will always need to be built on the premise that the situation will change, and that technological adaptation will keep companies afloat.

first-nations-medical-marijuana

Compliance and Regulations in a Shifting Marketplace

Compliance with regulations and laws is a major concern for companies that just want to focus on making their products. It appears we are moving toward a cannabis industry where lab test certificates are required to be publicly visible. Another very popular phrase thrown around cannabis compliance is “seed to sale” tracking. Nearly every cannabis platform and database is working to organize the complexity of cannabis. Smoke Reports succeeded in codifying cannabis with our UCPC system.

screenshot_2015-06-05_13-1.12.19_720

Better Product and Brand Information for Consumers

Another major reason why cannabis needs better technology is that consumers expect it. Cannabis companies are racing to establish themselves as a business with ethical practices and a commitment to quality. It has become very apparent that the companies currently raising the bar are all very concerned with providing their customers with better product information.

menu-browser

Many cannabis websites are substandard website templates that feel locked in the earlier days of the internet. Cannabis companies, especially producers and manufacturers, want to focus resources on better displaying their availability and product safety to build consumer trust with their brands.

Marketing and Branding Solutions

Advertisers discriminate against cannabis companies. Social media platforms are famous for deactivating accounts without any explanation. Under these conditions, it seems establishing an online footprint is very prohibitive. Developers interested in cannabis products should consider solutions for businesses to better promote organic discovery of their brands.

Marketing and branding platforms are popping up all over the web, but for some reason very few of them are building substantial sites and applications for their clients. Some developers are building websites for clients and integrating them with the Smoke Reports API, which allows the clients to update the website for themselves using their Smoke Reports business account as the easy-to-use dashboard.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 11.53.40 AM

Cannabis Education

Although it may seem as if cannabis is getting a lot of press, more often than not, the information being distributed is scientifically or historically inaccurate. It has gotten to the point where the common narrative has overwhelmed the need for improved information. Many cannabis businesses are fully aware of the complex science behind cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system, but most continue to promote the indica vs. sativa narrative because that is what their customers are familiar with.

Many developers are already getting creative with the Smoke Reports API as they build learning tools and resources that promote accurate cannabis information. Cannabis games have been increasingly popular as mobile applications, and games give developers the opportunity to make something fun and educational. As cannabis enters the mainstream, informational platforms will be necessary to eliminate the overall confusion surrounding cannabis.

Industry Tools for Cannabis Businesses

The cannabis community stands to benefit from potential marketing tools, branding solutions, educational resources, and consumer information. These are just a few of the public-facing issues that need resolution. The manufacturing and retail aspects of the cannabis industry require even more advanced cannabis technology.

shutterstock_198188897-676x372

Regulatory Compliance and Standardized Tracking

Earlier, we touched on regulatory compliance, and it should be again stressed that this is one of the biggest upcoming technological challenges. Businesses are rightly concerned with the current lack of transparency, as well as the ambitious legislation aiming to regulate a long-standing gray market. Helping companies navigate the regulatory issues of cannabis is sure to be a very profitable arm of the cannabis industry.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.41.43 AM

 

States that have legalized cannabis have already required businesses to use a standardized tracking system. Most business owners have been vocally upset about how clunky and inefficient these systems have become. The turret is that any software that is applied to cannabis is going to struggle if it was not specifically designed for cannabis. This plant is far more complex than other consumables, and the industry is going to need a better system for tracking supply and distribution chains sooner rather than later.

Retail Inventory and POS

Inventory software and POS solutions (point of sale) are present in every retail industry, and cannabis is no exception. But once again, the technology being offered to cannabis businesses is simply software from less complex consumables industries, and cannot fully account for the intricacy of cannabis products.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-20-at-2.10.12-PM

Many organizations are announcing “revolutionary” inventory tracking and POS solutions for cannabis businesses, but so far none of them have established technology that is truly capable of handling the complexity of cannabis. This is certainly an area that bigger software companies are going to approach in the future.

On-Demand and E-Commerce

This year, the business world has been buzzing over cannabis. Last year, everyone was raving about on-demand solutions. Food, clothing, walking your dog, and getting a ride. These are just a handful of the many tasks and chores that can now be solved by the click of a button. It did not take long at all for cannabis companies to begin creating cannabis on-demand delivery services, and it took even less time for celebrities and business moguls to begin investing in this perfect storm of popular trends.

price-map-676x463

On-demand cannabis services essentially means cannabis delivery companies. Before the most recent California cannabis legislation was passed, doctor recommendations could also been done over the phone at the click of a button, but that practice has since been forbidden. Cannabis delivery companies seem to have established pretty straight forward business practices in terms of distributing the product, but payment solutions are still an area of cannabis technology that needs to catch up to other industries.

E-commerce and cannabis is a tricky combination right off the bat. The federal government, according to the internal revenue code, does not allow cannabis companies to bank their revenue under an obscure law designed to keep drug dealers from legitimizing their income. The legal cannabis industry is far more advanced than street corner distribution, but the legal obstacles remain and are not going away anytime soon.

The success of the cannabis industry hinges on businesses being able to profit, and it is hard to build revenue when you are stressed about operating a cash-only business. Developers who want to build lucrative technology should look to POS systems that ease the tension of cannabis business operations.

Building Technology with the Smoke Reports API

Developers are already building solutions to address these areas of cannabis technology, but the space needs more competition in order to improve the overall technology. The Smoke Reports API encourages developers of all skill levels to create tools and technologies that support businesses, consumers, and educators.

marijuana-data-1

As more developers begin moving into the cannabis space, we expect to see an improvement in the cannabis software and information available. If you would like to begin developing your own cannabis project, please reach out to us for an API key so that you can explore our database of over 19,000 cannabis strains, extracts, edibles, products, and beyond.

api-terminal

Check out our API page to request an API key. For the most up to date info on Smoke Reports, follow us on Twitter @smokereports or like us on our Facebook page. You can also join the discussion in the comments section below, or through our social media links.