Heavy demand and increased popularity of cannabis, alongside new, stringent regulations, mean many cannabis businesses must seek a way to track all aspects of cannabis production, from seed to sale, digitally.
Early in the days of medical marijuana, dispensaries served one primary function: dispense much needed medicinal cannabis to patients in need, like cancer and AIDs survivors, while protecting these vulnerable people from prosecution.
Original medical marijuana programs, like California, Oregon, and Washington, were mostly confined to America’s west coast, and were cash only. At this time, regulations on cannabis sale and production were fairly relaxed, as the medical cannabis market was largely nascent, and undefined.
For instance, the original text of California’s Prop 215, the first approved medical marijuana bill, only mentioned cultivation in terms of legal protection, stating that marijuana penalties, “shall not apply to a patient, or to a patient's primary caregiver, who possesses or cultivates marijuana for the personal medical purposes of the patient upon the written or oral recommendation or approval of a physician.”
Today, however, dispensaries must comply with their state’s marijuana program if they wish to remain legitimate. California passed substantial revisions to marijuana regulations in 2017, and these can be quite extensive, like ensuring cannabis quality and safety, keeping records of patients/customers, maintaining proper grow limits, and many other requirements.
60% of all marijuana cultivators turned a profit, with 29% being very profitable, compared to only 18% of all marijuana dispensaries
Cultivation and Retail Model
With cannabis demand through the roof, especially around the cannabis holiday, 4/20, many dispensaries have realized they can better control their prices, and thus improve sales, if they cultivate their own product. However, this comes with many regulatory hurdles
With the rise of new legal recreational markets, like in Canada and Michigan, there is an increased demand for marijuana from the general population. Cannabis demand on and around April 20th, or 4/20, reached such a height that dispensaries estimated they would need to increase their delivery capabilities by 120% to keep up with orders.
This demand for cannabis, and its potential for further growth, mean many dispensaries have begun expanding their operations from the store front to wholesale cultivation. By taking over both as cultivator and retailer, dispensaries can handle each step in the cannabis purchase process.
These “seed to sale,” end to end cannabis businesses face even tougher regulatory hurdles. According to Anthony Sodd of Built In, Colorado’s cannabis industry requires businesses keep meticulous details on cannabis cultivation. “If you’re growing cannabis commercially,” he specified, “and you move a plant from one room to another, you are required to track that.”
Spending on cannabis is on the rise, and dispensaries who also cultivate can meet this demand head on
The Need for a Digital Solution
Dispensaries are required to keep track of all sales data, as well as many other technical instances, like where they grow certain products, and whether cannabis is used for medicine or recreation. Dispensaries grow weed well, but could use a digital solution to maintain compliance.
Moreover, recreational and medical cannabis must be tracked separately, creating even more pains for marijuana businesses in dual markets.
In spite of these regulatory hurdles, marijuana businesses covet an end to end, seed to sale model, because it represents a bevy of opportunity for the growing cannabis industry, which saw global sales reach 12.2 billion in 2018. If dispensaries supply their own cannabis products, they can turn a better profit while improving cannabis prices overall.
For example, Aurora Cannabis Inc, a cannabis dispensary and cultivator, announced plans to increase their green room size to 1.62 million sq feet, holding enough room for, “1 million plants in various growth stages,” and, “37 grow rooms at 32,500 square feet each.” By cultivating themselves, Aurora expects to lower their price per gram to $1.
Sodd described that most marijuana businesses know a lot about, “growing weed,” but not quite a lot about maintaining compliance, or digitally tracking cannabis production and sales. Luckily, new full service digital platforms allow dispensaries to track every item through the seed to sale process, maintain compliance, and increase sales and production.
Blaze inc offers a cloud based platform which can maintain compliance across all channels, while improving sales and efficiency in the process
End to End Cannabis Tech: Blaze and Foottraffik
Both BLAZE Retail and Foottraffik platforms allow dispensaries to track all cannabis sales, handle important regulatory information, and improve customer service and experience.
On April 25th, 2019, five days after this years 4/20 celebration highlighted the need for expanded cannabis delivery, Driven Deliveries Inc., a noted cannabis delivery service, announced their partnership with Blaze Inc, to include delivery capabilities to BLAZE Retail, an already game changing seed to sale dispensary service.
Blaze Inc’s retail platform helps dispensaries increase their sales and overall profits all while remaining compliant in an ever changing industry. According to their Linkedin, BLAZE technology utilizes a cloud system that, “manages all aspects of dispensary operations including point of sale, delivery fleet management, in-depth inventory tracking and more.”
According to the press release, their partnership with Driven Deliveries will help BLAZE become a truly, “full-service tech platform for advertising, point-of-sale, customer interfacing and more.” Driven Deliveries CEO, Chris Boudreau, described that he is, “confident that our best-in-class delivery services dovetail perfectly with BLAZE’s renowned point-of-sale services and financial management tools."
This partnership will allow the platform to better track and maintain compliance when it comes to marijuana deliveries, an area of significant need as cannabis markets grow.
Moreover, other digital seed to sale services have begun to integrate augmented reality dispensary apps, which would let customers view and examine items in the dispensary from anywhere.
On April 26th, 2019, Next Tech AR solutions came to a reseller agreement with Foottraffik, a digital full service cannabis platform. Foottraffik provides cannabis marketing services, CRM tech, as well as a digital POS system with regulatory tracking capabilities. Foottraffik will market Next Tech AR solutions to its 125 partner dispensaries, like Clear Choice, and Have a Heart.
Next Tech’s web based AR model will let customers step inside a dispensary on the go, from their phone or tablet, and preview products. This digital dispensary experience can be expanded to include online order and delivery options, which help form, “a complete dispensary experience,” which can be, “integrated into a dispensary’s website seamlessly through just a snippet of code.”
End to end cannabis compliant digital systems have become a prominent, growing ancillary industry to cannabis cultivation and retail. Companies like Next Tech, Foottraffik, and Blaze demonstrate the growing popularity of end to end, seed to sale cannabis business models.
About the Author
Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, SEO specialist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and cannabis. Chris currently writes for SEO purposes for cannabis clients, as well as creative pieces about medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter