How Artificial Intelligence and Technology are Revolutionising the Legal Cannabis Industry

Aug 7th Tech

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Our team here at Univers Labs were recently contacted by a potential client to work on a new digital project for a company in America which produces legal cannabis products. We were excited at the prospect of working on this project with a product that is generally seen as a taboo in the UK. Whilst the use of cannabis is still illegal in Britain, opinions around the world and in the UK are changing with attitudes towards legalising cannabis growing increasingly popular.

The legalization of marijuana across various parts of the globe has seen it become one of the fastest growing consumer industries. From cannabis infused honey, sweets and soft drinks, the legalization of the drug has created several new niche markets from which companies are hoping to capitalize on.

Medicinal and recreational marijuana has been legalized across various countries including parts of the USA, Australia, Czech Republic, Uruguay, New Zealand and Canada to name a few. This trend is expected to continue with efforts in Brazil, Luxembourg and even the UK attempting to legalise the drug. The recent emergence of marijuana’s legal market has meant that there is little data to understand it as a business. This lack of understanding has already caused some major shifts within the business sector and the cannabis industry is predicted to evolve dramatically over the next decade.

The legal marijuana market has provided new opportunities for companies to implement their services into the cannabis industry and make it a profitable business sector. Digital and AI technology has been developed to be used in a number of areas within the cannabis industry. From using AI technology to optimize marijuana plant growth to developing new and smarter ways to purchase cannabis products, these advances in digital and AI technology are revolutionizing the legal marijuana industry across the entire production line.

This week on Medium, we look at how artificial intelligence and technology are completely transforming the cannabis industry and the implications this may have on organizations and consumers.

1. The AI-Powered Cannabis App

AI-powered apps are becoming a growing trend within the cannabis industry. Uppy is a medical cannabis app created by Namaste Technologies, that uses artificial technology to track and observe users’ medical needs, usage patterns and product reviews to help make more personalised recommendations for the user. The recent legalisation of marijuana in various parts of the world means there is little data available to determine what types and strains of cannabis are effective to alleviate certain symptoms within patients. Apps utilising AI technology can enable firms to determine the most appropriate cannabis product for the patient and ultimately provide more effective treatment.

2. Facial Recognition

Thirty three states in America have legalised the use of cannabis for medical purposes and medical marijuana dispensaries have been widely implemented within these states, enabling patients to legally collect their cannabis prescriptions. However, these dispensaries are considered at high risk from robberies due to the cannabis market being a predominantly all cash industry. During the first half of 2019, 34 dispensary robberies were reported, leading organisations to seek better ways to protect their profits.

AI-powered facial recognition is one type of technology which is being implemented at medicinal marijuana dispensaries in an effort to make them more secure and allow patients to collect their prescriptions safely. But in an industry where only recently you could be prosecuted for the use of cannabis, questions have been raised over the use of facial recognition within such a taboo industry. With fears that this new technology could be used to target medicinal cannabis patients and poses serious risks to their privacy.

3. Seed to Sale Platforms

Artificial intelligence and advances in technology aren’t just being used at purchase level but throughout the entire production line. Companies such as Ample Organics have developed AI-powered platforms to oversee the entire seed to sale process. These platforms can offer a range of services from smart harvesting and plant tracking to prescription management and intelligent inventory control. By utilising these platforms, companies can determine the most appropriate time to harvest, take advantage of faster delivery services and personalise their cannabis products to their customers, increasing yield and profitability.

4. Cannabis Delivery Apps

The recent development of cannabis delivery apps has helped connect regulated and legal cannabis retailers to consumers. Eaze is a cannabis delivery company located in California, offering a range of unique products with fast and efficient delivery. Eaze uses big data and AI technology to predict the supply and demand of products.

However, platforms such as Eaze have taken some hits recently, with Google stating that they will be banning any apps that help facilitate the sale of marijuana, whether they are legal or not. Google did confirm that whilst they will not ban apps promoting the sale of cannabis products, they will not allow in-app purchases. These new Google rules could have serious consequences to apps such as Eaze and their consumers, with concerns being raised that it may promote the use of the illegal cannabis market if consumers cannot purchase legal marijuana easily.

5. Cannabis Transactions

Although the use of medicinal and recreational cannabis is legal across 33 states in America, cannabis remains illegal under federal law. This area of uncertainty means that banks are unwilling to incorporate it, making it predominantly an all-cash industry. Whilst an all cash business may seem appealing, it makes it incredibly hard for organisations to grow, forcing marijuana companies to explore new ways to make financial transactions.

The development of cannabis specific currencies have since emerged to help alleviate this problem. Cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin have made it far easier for consumers to purchase marijuana products through virtual currency, with some companies having gone a step further by developing currency specifically for the purchase of cannabis such as Potcoin and Hempcoin.