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How the cannabis sector is embracing digital transformation

While the process of online ordering is well established, cannabis companies are utilizing digital technology in other ways in order to market and distribute products (whether psychoactive or not). We look at some recent examples.

White label products to expand sales opportunities

One example is with U.S. firm Joy Organics, who provide a THC-free range of CBD products direct to the consumer via online sales. One of the digital services offered is a ‘white label’ purchase where consumers or small businesses can purchase unbranded CBD products and have the labels printed to their own requirements, either personalized or with a company logo.

In this context, a white label product is a product produced by one company (the producer) which other companies (the marketers) can then rebrand. Such situations include where a marketer wishes to give the impression that they have manufactured the product. Often an agreement is in place as to what can be written onto the label, such as the product ingredients and formulation.

Data analytics to improve plant yields

Much of the cannabis industry is still in its infancy and many producers have yet to establish best practices for extraction and processing. This is often because of a paucity of data and reliable data analytics, resulting in many firms struggling to produce consistent products. Where a poor quality product is produced, this can often lead to reputational damage (and this can have consequences in what is a very competitive market).

One way to address this data-gap is with the deployment of suitable sensors, including those from U.S. technology firm A4 systems to collect valuable data and then through the use of bespoke algorithms to help to make predictions in relation to aspects like crop yields.

Cloud computing to protect the supply chain

Having oversight of the supply chain is essential for biological products like cannabis, as to avoid the loss of a valuable product and to safeguard against adulterated product coming into the distribution process.

To aid this some cannabis producers are turning to cloud computing. As an example, the Canadian company Ample Organics Inc. provides ‘seed-to-sale’ cannabis software. This is delivered through cloud-based compliance software, which allows for the cannabis product to be tracked from growth to retail.

New analytical technologies to maximize potency

Different technologies are being used to help to maximizing productivity for cannabis producers, adopting methods that were once more commonplace to industrial processes such as the production of plastics.

An example is with the use of near infrared (NIR) spectrometry, as discussed by the Harvard Business Review. This method allows fast, non-destructive measurement of potency (based on the concentration of psychoactive cannabinoid chemicals). Reflected light, read by a spectrophotometer, can provide usable data about the concentration of specific compounds.

Why the digital transformation of cannabis matters

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting the cannabis industry at similar levels to other industries selling similar products (which sees the stock prices of many cannabis firms taking a tumble during quarter 2 of 2020). However, by adopting digital initiatives, those companies prepared to innovate will be better placed to weather the economic storm, as the examples illustrated here demonstrate.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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