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Cannabis is the country’s fastest-growing industry. In fact, some forecasts reveal that the U.S. is seeing the early stages of a blossoming industry that could be worth anywhere from $500 billion to $1 trillion within 10 years.
Every year, an increasing number of states hop on the legal cannabis bandwagon to capitalize on the “green rush.” By the end of the year, more than 40 U.S. states, territories, and Washington, D.C. could allow some form of legal cannabis. As the sector grows, state-regulated compliance requirements, combined with general complications associated with growing, are priming the cannabis industry for a rise in technologies that make the entire process easier and more productive.
As the cannabis industry becomes more mainstream, conventional business practices and technologies are growing drastically. Business owners, cannabis cultivators, and employees are increasingly turning to content management systems (CMS) and automation and machine learning technologies used across other industries to both manage compliance regulations and avoid many of the pitfalls associated with marijuana cultivation.
CMS + POS = A Winning Combination
By integrating CMS capabilities with a dispensary’s point-of-sale (POS) system, canna-businesses are able to better handle the complexities of the grow cycle, as well as better manage daily operations and compliance requirements. Software platforms like Cova, Flowhub, and GeoShepard empower business owners and their employees with critical tools for compliance, point of sale, and inventory management, helping cannabis companies operate and perform just like other successful organizations in multibillion-dollar verticals.
In a typical business, CMS systems are databases that can be used to manage the creation and modification of content. They must be reliable, easy to use, and navigate. In the cannabis industry, CMSs are being used to manage plant inventories in real time, monitoring the entire lifecycle of each plant. Plus, by automatically documenting and analyzing various data points, CMSs can optimize growing conditions to bolster yields. And by integrating your CMS with a POS system, the tracking of inventory extends beyond the garden into the retail operation, driving optimization from seed to sale.
Automation of Cannabis Operations
Across industries, automation increases productivity and efficiency — and the legal cannabis space is no exception. From lighting and temperature to climate control, the application of nutrients, and, yes, even compliance with state regulations, automation is able to control almost every aspect of cannabis cultivation to eliminate costly mistakes and reduce a substantial amount of work throughout the grow cycle. In addition, automation technologies are easing the load on cultivators and helping them dial in, foresee any issues, and correct those issues before they become more significant problems to save time and money.
Let’s face it, like with all crops, growing cannabis can be difficult enough. But when you consider the myriad of time-consuming and labor-intensive factors cultivators need to monitor and adjust on a continuous basis, implementing at least some level of automatic control can make even the most tedious, drawn-out tasks simpler than ever before. In fact, automated technologies are driving 26% savings in labor costs and 42% savings in harvest costs, as well as remarkable time savings.
Human error is unavoidable. But machine learning, a field of artificial intelligence that studies algorithms to automatically learn from data and make a decision based on that information, is able to advance the industry by recommending settings and schedules in a grow based on factors such as CO2, temperature, humidity, pH and more to streamline the process and increase yields.
All of this is not to say that automation and machine learning will ultimately replace skilled growers. In fact, much like other industries, the technologies are helping to augment jobs and help growers rather than replace them. In fact, recent survey results reveal cultivators demand automation — and for more than just growing.
Ask any dispensary owner or cultivator what their No. 1 pain point is, and the vast majority will tell you it’s managing compliance. In fact, the vast majority of cultivators spend more than 10 hours per harvest on ensuring compliance with all regulations. When it comes to cannabis cultivation, adherence to city, county, and state regulations involves tracking inventory and plant weights, growth stages, and any movement of the plants, which can be incredibly time-consuming and tedious for cultivators and their garden staff.
Because cannabis remains federally illegal, each state regulates the plant differently. As such, a significant pain point for cultivators is managing compliance. Often, employees must repeat all compliance data entry work — recording data once using a pen and paper and doing so again by entering it on the computer and uploading the information to the appropriate regulatory organization.
Fortunately, forward-thinking companies have developed simple solutions that remove the friction of entering compliance data. Using a smartphone application and “smart scales,” leading cannabis technology companies offer ways for cultivators to wirelessly and automatically scan the METRC barcode and record the weight of plants, harvests, and packages, providing an option to publish the information to directly to METRC after review.
Assisting cultivators and dispensary employees with everything from phase changes and veg-to-flower transfers to harvesting and packaging, businesses in cannabis can use CMSs, automation, and machine learning technologies across every department where data needs to be recorded to better adhere to various compliance regulations and circumvent many of the most significant challenges related to cannabis cultivation.
From compliance to streamlining the seed-to-sale workflow, companies on the cutting edge of cannabis increasingly utilize both traditional business tools and transcendent AI technologies to solve their problems and gain a competitive edge. Whether the conversation surrounds CMS platforms, automation, or machine learning, new technologies combined with the skills of expert growers can really help the legal cannabis industry thrive as an increasing number of companies take note of the burgeoning billion-dollar industry.