How Technology Has Shaped The Cannabis Industry

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, so too does the technology used to propel the industry further. Those involved with the plant are no longer just cultivators and retailers, there's now a host of technological, ancillary companies that are capitalizing on cannabis.

Cannabis consumption was once an illegal, rebellious activity carried out in the shadows of society. Movie depictions of marijuana consumers showed them as lazy, unambitious, and generally pretty clueless.

Now, the cannabis industry is one of the primary job creators in the U.S., cannabis-derived medicines now have FDA approval, and as a result, the global industry is pegged by Grandview Research to be worth $73.6 Billion By 2027. With each year that passes, cannabis is made legal in a handful of new countries or states for medical or recreational purposes, serving to further embed the plant in our daily lives. Needless to say, the world has come a long way from the 'War on Drugs,' and it looks inevitable that the momentum surrounding marijuana will continue to grow.

Not only that, but while most industries are being crippled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the cannabis industry has been deemed an "essential" service and is flourishing as a result.

Though the world hasn't just progressed in terms of how it perceives cannabis; there has also been a wealth of technological progress that has accompanied the cannabis industry and enabled it to flourish in the modern era.

Let's take a look at all the ways that technology has shaped the cannabis industry.

1. Apps

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it's that industries need to be ready to adapt to global events as quickly as possible to minimize economic impacts. This is something that the cannabis industry managed to achieve rather successfully. As COVID-19 lockdowns fell upon the industry, cannabis dispensaries utilized apps such as Eaze and Budly in order to provide curbside pick-ups or deliveries without breaching social distancing laws. This meant that while other industries have had to close or lose sales during the pandemic, the cannabis industry actually managed to see an increase in sales all across the U.S.

Then there are apps like WeedMaps, which informs users where their nearest cannabis dispensary is, and Leafly, which provides a host of information on cannabis strains, with user reviews to help educate consumers on which strain is the best.

Another area cannabis companies have utilized apps is with Australia's Althea Group Holdings, who developed their 'Concierge' app. The app arose after Althea noticed that a lack of information acted as a major bottleneck to the Australian medical cannabis industry, and so in order to remedy this, Althea released Concierge. Concierge is a platform for patients, pharmacists, and healthcare professionals alike, answering all of their questions while simplifying the prescription process. Thanks to the simplicity of the App, over 40% of Australia's healthcare professionals now prescribe Althea products.

2. Cannabis Extraction Technology

The act of consuming cannabis is no longer relegated to blunts and bongs, and technology has helped to expand the menu of cannabis products on offer. One such technology is CO2 extraction. Thanks to big, sci-fi-looking CO2 extraction machines, certain elements of the cannabis plant can now be stripped or extracted from the sum of the parts; you can now get terpenes on their own, cannabis concentrates, CBD oils and tinctures and much more, thanks to the advancing technology of cannabis extraction.

CBD, in particular, has been a tremendous boon to the cannabis industry, as it can be accessed through low-THC hemp plants, meaning that it's federally legal in the U.S. and also won't get you high. As such, the CBD industry is estimated to be worth over $20 billion by 2024.

As a result of cannabis extraction technology, new forms of cannabis consumption have arisen such as vaporizing and dabbing rigs which can provide smoke-free or more potent consumption alternatives. One such area that has drawn mainstream attention has been cannabis beverages, which have famously attracted investments from the makers of Corona beer, Constellation Brands, as well as piquing the interest of Coca Cola.

3. Lights

We simply couldn't leave cannabis grow lights off of the list. Cannabis grow lights revolutionized the industry, allowing for those in unideal climates to take their growing operations indoors, as well as expediting the growing process for all who use them.

Before cultivators utilized grow light technologies, cannabis cultivation was subject to the unpredictability of the outdoors. This meant that entire growing operations could be ruined by a bad weather event, and there was little that a cultivator could do. Now, however, there is a great deal of control available when cultivating cannabis.

Whether it be fluorescent lights, LED or HID lights, the lights that cultivators use when growing cannabis can greatly alter the appearance and effects of the plant. Cultivators can dictate how long the plant stays in a vegetative state, which spectrum of light they wish to use, how hot they'd like the plants to get, and so forth.

Cannabis grow light technologies have afforded cultivators control in the appearance, potency, and yield of their plants, and give consumers a reliable source of cannabis all-year-round.

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The Future of Cannabis

The cannabis industry is constantly changing and evolving alongside new technologies, and the above list is just a few examples of this. New technologies are emerging all of the time, whether it be testing equipment to determine the THC level in cannabis plants or cannabis breathalyzers, to ensure that people aren't driving while stoned.

As cannabis is made legal in an ever-increasing number of countries and states, and continues to move closer into the mainstream in terms of recreation and medicines, it's likely these technologies will begin to pour forth at an even greater rate, perhaps changing the cannabis landscape in its entirety.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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