In 1996, California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Eleven years later, in 2007, Apple released the first-ever iPhone and Silicon Valley was born.
I don’t think that anyone could have predicted the relationship between the cannabis industry and the tech industry, but, lo and behold, it appears that in order to take marijuana to the next level, a sophisticated, technical approach is needed.
It’s almost like tech nerds had a baby with hippie stoners out of wedlock and the government is holding them to a shotgun marriage. If I missed some of you with this analogy, allow me to explain.
The Birth of the “Cannapreneur”
Cannabis was made legal in some states for some purposes but remains illegal in other states. It’s also illegal federally.
Traditional, well established capital investment tends to be rather risk-averse, and for that reason they were not a major player in the cannabis industry’s growth. Without huge funding opportunities and very dubious legal status, the space was left to the risk-taking cowboy entrepreneurs; creative problem solvers who fly by the seat of their pants.
Technological innovation didn’t just help the cannabis industry, it was prerequisite to its very existence.
Things like seed-to-sale tracking software, genetic testing and modification of plants, accounting procedures that were adaptable to regulation, creative banking and money management, point-of-sale processing, inventory transportation and holding that was small and flexible enough to minimize risk and over-investment; all of these technologies were a result of the lack of big money financing and totally unpredictable legal requirements.
Today, the cannabis industry and tech industry are two of the fastest growing industries in the world.
From basements to industrial warehouses
Scaling the cannabis industry from small scale black market operations to large agricultural businesses designed to take marijuana to the mass market has also proved rather difficult.
The industrialization of cannabis is powering massive growth in the industry in a myriad of ways, taking some procedures from the standard agrobusiness playbook as well as coming up with innovations of their own.
Technology is helping propel marijuana out of the free love stoner era and into the, well, everyone era. The market for cannabis is turning mainstream, marketing cannabis-infused candy, gummi bears, pastries, body oils, butter, the list goes on, to all kinds of consumer segments.
The future of "Big Cannabis"
Industrialization will bring us to marijuana's future. At least that’s what Ed Rosenthal, author and co-founder of High Times Magazine, seems to think. Rosenthal claims that genetically engineered yeast that makes cannabis the same way brewers make beer in a vat is just over the horizon.
"You can take the genome of marijuana and put it into yeast, then put that yeast into a bucket of water and sugar," Rosenthal recently told CNET. "You're going to get that same THC in five days. That's the future. It's not going to be grown under the lights and sun, it's going to be grown in a bucket."
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