Recreational cannabis is already big business, and it’s growing at a breakneck pace. With the steady pace of legalization efforts happening all across the United States, institutional money is pouring into the pockets of entrepreneurs in a brand-new market.
Legal cannabis presents a unique opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs alike. As a fresh but already booming market with a guaranteed consumer base, there is no established, institutional competition yet – everyone is essentially starting from the same point.
The numbers paint a convincing picture. Just six years ago, the first Marijuana Business Daily Conference (MJBizCon) debuted with 17 exhibitors and 400 attendees. The 2018 edition attracted more than 1,000 companies and 25,000 attendees from 63 countries.
Experts expect the global cannabis market to surge in the near future. According to Liz Stahura of BDS Analytics, the global market should balloon from $13 billion to $32 billion within the next five years, making it one of the fastest-growing industries in the world.
That growth is already attracting tech-oriented entrepreneurs looking to utilize the cannabis industry to offer compelling world-firsts. These developments describe an industry that will remain on the cutting edge of new technology for the foreseeable future.
Where Is the Cannabis Industry Going?
Predictably, many of the MJBizCon exhibitors focus exclusively on recreational marijuana as an agricultural product. But the most interesting, trend-setting developments are at the intersection of state-of-the-art technology and the cannabis industry.
One of the most interesting developments in the world of cannabis technology is the use of blockchain-based solutions for problems facing the cannabis industry. Blockchain technology uses peer-to-peer networking to verify transactions on a secure digital ledger. The digital ledger itself can be private, public, or even anonymous, depending on the blockchain developer’s goal.
For instance, CannVerify predicts that as the market grows, counterfeit cannabis will become an increasingly disruptive problem. The company’s solution involves a holographic, blockchain-registered label that consumers can scan to verify a particular strain’s authenticity, interacting directly with the breeder who grew it.
Alt Thirty Six hopes to use blockchain technology to address the cannabis industry’s cash flow problem. Banks are unwilling to invest in marijuana-related businesses for fear of future industry-changing regulatory burdens, leaving cannabis companies with no easy ways to process cashless payments. Alt Thirty Six uses blockchain-based cryptocurrency to help cannabis businesses improve asset liquidity.
In Canada, GreenStream has plans to release a blockchain-based supply chain solution for the cannabis industry. The company is testing an exchange platform that includes identify verification and supply chain integrity in a single system. This could prove to be an enormously useful solution for the cannabis industry if regulators decide that distributors have to report real-time sales and logistics data to fight the burgeoning black market.
Trackloop (TOOL.C) uses blockchain technology to support the logistics of food delivery, but is also expanding into cannabis. It’s become commonplace for cannabis plants to show up dead on arrival, which causes huge losses, especially in b2b sales where millions of dollars could be at stake from a single order. Trackloop’s cold-chain technology tracks the entire products supply chain making commodities a lot safer.
They have already landed blue chip clients like Walmart (WMT.N), Save-On-Foods, BC Ferries and The Canadian Blood Services.
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The Future of Cannabis is on the Blockchain
The cannabis industry and blockchain technology share an important element in common – they both have yet to encounter the rigid regulation that comes along with a mature market.
Entrepreneurs working at the intersection between these two spaces can help bring both markets into maturity by developing transparent, trustworthy verification and management methods that will present a convincing case to lawmakers.
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