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article imageMarijuana businesses getting more tech savvy as popularity grows

By Holly L. Walters     Aug 21, 2015 in Technology
Spurred by the push for legalization, marijuana for medical and recreational use is becoming more mainstream. And as the popularity of the drug grows, so does the technology aimed at making it easier for people to have access to it from handy apps.
These apps are a big aspect of a growing initiative led by the marijuana industry to allow technology to influence everything from testing and delivering cannabis, to better shopping experiences for customers and more financial options for marijuana-based businesses.
The “Green Rush" of Marijuana
The recent and unprecedented events in the legalization of pot has many asking if the “Green Rush” of states such as Colorado is here to stay. Some businesses are banking on it lasting, and some of them that are technologically-savvy are developing apps that will help them get in on the action.
Will Colorado's "green rush" regarding medical marijuana last?
Tech Businesses Riding the Green Rush
The pro-marijuana surge has given rise to a new breed of technology that business owners in this niche are pushing to reap profits. The medical and recreational marijuana business is booming, and one example of this is in California where marijuana-related sales reached $1.1 billion in 2014 alone. Investors and entrepreneurs are sitting up and taking notice and working to capitalize on the green rush.
Steve Gormley is a partner in a number of California-based companies that work directly in the medical marijuana dispensary field. CBS News reports that Gormley said that,
“Technology is starting to influence everything from the lighting that growers use on their plants to the systems that provide their plants with nutrients.”
The technology Gormley is describing is paving the way to a better marijuana experience for users, and there are now a wide variety of apps that offer information resources and better accessibility to it. What follows are a few of the more popular apps that are geared towards the marijuana-friendly market. Many of them are free to download to an iPhone or Android.
Weedmaps and Leafly
Weedmaps and Leafly are apps that are available to use in countries such as Canada, the United States, and Europe. Their main feature allows medical and recreational marijuana consumers to use an integrated map that finds information about medical cannabis strains, delivery services, legal doctors and medical services, pot dispensaries, retail cannabis stores and more.
Other features the apps provide allow you to view deals and specials, browse dispensary menus, read user reviews, and receive notifications from medical marijuana dispensaries and retail marijuana stores of your choice. Leafly News & Culture also enables you to read the latest news and lifestyle information about cannabis, including news regarding legalization updates and marijuana studies.
TNM News
TNM News is a cannabis news website and radio show that includes online broadcasts and brick and mortar news stations in Alaska, Colorado, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The news website is titled Live365, and the media outlet folks that run it realize the times are changing. Therefore, they continue to change their mode of reporting with it. The website and radio station offers current and intriguing cannabis news, analysis, videos, features and opinions that help their 100,000+ listeners make sense of it all.
TNM News has now launched an iOs app in addition to its already popular Android app. The National Marijuana News app gives you 24/7 access to one of the nation’s leading sources of marijuana news coverage on your mobile device.
Quil and Meadow
Until recently, patients needed to visit a dispensary to get medical marijuana. However, thanks to a new host of apps such as Quil and Meadow, they can now order their cannabis from their home and wait for the delivery person to ring the doorbell about an hour later – in much the same way you would order takeout food.
Quil services offer delivery on-demand for customers that possess a medical marijuana card, and Meadow offers deliveries from different dispensaries, while also providing doctor consultations for those needing a card.
Yelp is famous for directing hungry people to the nearest snack shack or restaurant, and it hasn’t missed the chance of hitching a ride on the green wave, either. Consumers that smoke weed usually wind up getting food cravings as a side effect, and Yelp’s new app can direct them to the nearest restaurant or snack shack when they get the munchies.
The app lets you search for things such as bars, junk food and restaurants that serve high-quality fare wherever you’re holed up. You can also search for the best marijuana dispensaries on Yelp. Cannabis users in San Francisco, for instance, can search for “the best marijuana dispensaries,” and several user reviews from San Francisco establishments pop up that you can peruse.
QuantaCan II
Cannabis testing firms have also come to the forefront of the green rush. As marijuana use becomes more commonplace, there have been more financing options, and companies are not as worried that they could be put out of business. Since this has happened, there has been more of a willingness to invest in tech that makes marijuana products more effective and safer, according to Donald P. Land, a University of California, Davis, professor and chief scientific consultant for Steep Hill, which is a cannabis-testing firm.
A few weeks ago, Steep Hill rolled out a mobile testing lab called QuantaCann II that can tell the THC and CBD potency, moisture content and many other characteristics of cannabis in minutes. Land indicates that the testing is far more advanced than it is for many herbal products, and that factor has been vital to the field of medical marijuana where the different strains are used to treat each individual medical marijuana patient’s pain and nausea.
With the legal status being uncertain in many places and the state laws being at odds with the federal government, many financial institutions are afraid they will break federal laws if they finance marijuana business ventures. Since banks are still reluctant to provide financing, most businesses accept only cash or, more recently, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
Trees, a California-based medical marijuana distributor, has a very innovative notion – they are proposing the idea of delivering marijuana kits via aerial drone after they have been purchased by Bitcoin. Trees currently only serves the San Francisco Bay area and accepts Bitcoin, online bank transfers, credit cards, and cash as payment.
Some Background
In order to better understand how this innovative tech is gaining momentum, it may be necessary to be cognizant of some of the relevant background about the legalization of marijuana at the state level and growth that is driving nationwide popularity.
Recent statements the current administration has made, especially about the possible decriminalization of the drug on a nationwide level, may also help explain why the drug is gaining popularity.
State Momentum
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy on, there have been 23 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have passed laws allowing patients to smoke marijuana for certain medical purposes. The recreational use of it is also is legal in four states: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State.
However, the legal status of marijuana is still murky, especially on the federal level. One of the largest sources of contention with marijuana legislation is the stark opposition of state laws and the federal position. Even though these state marijuana laws have passed that decriminalize marijuana, it is still considered an offense under Federal law.
That fact has not gotten past President Obama, even though he has said in so many words that he will not take a tough stance on the issue. The president even went so far as to predict that more states will begin to legalize marijuana, and he stated that he will stand aside and let them pave their way towards legalization. The Huffington Post has also attributed the following quote about decriminalization to President Obama:
"We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side. At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may then reschedule marijuana."
These aspects continue to incense many marijuana advocates who believe that Congress or the president should act on the issue.
Anti-Marijuana Campaigns Fail
According to anti-drug research conducted by the Futures of Palm Beach drug addiction center, every administration since President Richard Nixon has implemented comprehensive initiatives to combat the use of drugs, marijuana included.
These initiatives cost approximately $51 billion a year, and during an anti-marijuana campaign study it was shown that just between 1998 and 2005 alone, $1.4 billion was spent on a single anti-marijuana campaign – an additional $4.3 million was spent to research that campaign and determine that it was a failure.
Public and Government Support Continues to Grow
Support for the legalization of marijuana is quickly outpacing its opposition. Recent polls have indicated that the popularity of cannabis is rapidly growing, and a national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center found out just how many citizens support initiatives for making it legal. The survey was conducted over the telephone March 25-29 and 1,500 adults living in Washington DC and 50 states participated.
The survey determined that a slim majority of 53 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana vs. only 12 percent that a Gallup poll determined were in favor of it in 1969. Young adults ranging from 28 to 34 were found to be more supportive of the legalization of cannabis, at 68 percent, while older voters ranging from 35 to 50 were less supportive, at 52 percent.
Pew also asked people to state why they oppose or support the legalization of marijuana. The most common response from the anti-decriminalization crowd was that it has caused damage to people and the society we live in. Proponents felt that cannabis offers health benefits and that it was not any more dangerous than any other drugs.
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