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Pushing Marijuana Technology Into Medical Tech Futures

Written by LAUREN EDMONDS on Nov 26, 2018
As more and more people turn to marijuana for relief, it’s become clear the legalization of cannabis plant growing and the drug product has opened up a new industry—in fact, the market size of the marijuana business is expected to skyrocket and reach $55.8 billion by 2025.

With thirty-three states and the District of Columbia currently allowing some form of legal usage of the drug, the United States appears to be leading the way in legalizing marijuana. Most of this new legal use revolves around taking marijuana for medicinal purposes, as the use of the drug has been confirmed to help alleviate the symptoms of a number of illnesses, including multiple sclerosis (MS); however, marijuana has also been successful in subduing vicious side effects brought on by prescribed drugs against cancer.

With this explosion on the industry scale comes a new requirement for technology which can improve yields and automate the production line. Other industries experiencing a similar growth spurt also often saw the development of ideas and innovative technologies streamline processes unique to those trades and could sometimes even be cross-applied in other businesses.

As more and more people turn to marijuana for relief, it’s become clear the legalization of cannabis plant growing and the drug product has opened up a new industry—in fact, the market size of the marijuana business is expected to skyrocket and reach $55.8 billion by 2025. With this explosion on the industry scale comes a new requirement for technology which can improve yields and automate the production line. Other industries experiencing a similar growth spurt also often saw the development of ideas and innovative technologies streamline processes unique to those trades and could sometimes even be cross-applied in other businesses. The cannabis industry is no exception, as it’s made use of previously developed tech to further its own interests, even as newer, specialized conferences--such as CannaTech—are springing up. Seminars like CannaTech, now a global conference, showcase the latest innovation in specific cannabis technology to investors and scientists alike. So, what are some of these latest innovations making the marijuana industry a leader in medical technology?

PULLING IN THE STASH

Even as the legalization of cannabis has created an unusual cash flow problem within the industry, some of the more traditional financial institutions are still wary of dealing with cannabis companies—as such, they won’t sanction credit card transactions or open bank accounts relevant to the industry. Even PayPal made sure to include cannabis under their narcotics section of their acceptable use policy to prevent a business account being used for marijuana transactions. (Such a policy is enforced as demonstrated in this article here about a business attempting to use PayPal for sale of their cannabis-related goods.) In the absence of the advantages offered by official, more traditional financial institutions, cannabis companies have had to deal, almost exclusively, in cash. For what has become a multi-billion-dollar industry working across multiple disciplines with thousands of customers, this can be a challenge.

The result is separate innovation in the financial sector tailor-made to cater to the specific challenges of the marijuana industry. These products, among others, are taking the industry into 21st-century banking:

  • payQwik allows cannabis-based businesses to complete transactions electronically while ensuring they follow state compliance on marijuana sales. Sales can even be made mobile through a smartphone app.
  • Zazzz vending machines, some of which stock marijuana products, are now set up to take bitcoin payments.

A Block of Cannabis

As in the healthcare industry, medical advances—especially drug discovery—are also part of the fabric of the cannabis business, and the sheer growth of the marijuana sector has encouraged stiff competition to expand rapidly. One of the areas that competition has focused on is the development of new strains of cannabis which can moderate and individualize the marijuana for use. With strains going for as much as $1,500 per pack, this type of investment is essential. One company using innovation in technology for maintaining strain intellectual property is Medical Genomics, a new, spin-off from an established, certified genetics testing laboratory specializing in identifying rare pediatric neurological conditions. Using similar technology, Medical Genomics has created a new gene sequencing product, StrainSeek, which instead uses the blockchain as a repository for strain DNA, monitoring consistency, and discovering new, unique strains of marijuana.

As the industry maintains this expansive development, requiring more and more sensitive data, the importance of the security and privacy of the patients using cannabis remains incredibly important and should continue to be prioritized.

Read full article at Cannabis Tech

LAUREN EDMONDS

MEET THE WRITER

LAUREN EDMONDS

Lauren is a Principal at Schellman with over 10 years of attestation and compliance experience. Lauren has evaluated risks and controls for a number of industries including financial services, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and service-based organizations.

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