The Tech Solutions Underpinning the Canadian Cannabis Industry
The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in October 2018 attracted a great deal of attention in the domestic and foreign press, with much of the interest being in how this long anticipated regulatory change would affect law enforcement, consumption, public health, and the economy.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, significantly less attention was paid to the ways in which legal cannabis production relies on a complex interplay of agricultural, regulatory, and technological innovations - despite the fact that these innovations underpin the functionality of the framework passed into law by the Cannabis Act.
The Unique Challenges of the Cannabis Industry
In some ways, cannabis is a plant like any other: farmers must procure seed, grow their product, and then harvest and process it before having it packaged and sent to retailers. Like any other farmer, a cannabis producer needs to ensure that they are producing their crop in a safe and responsible way (the recent outbreaks of E.Coli only serve to underscore the importance of safety regulations across the agricultural industry).
But because cannabis, like alcohol, is subject to additional regulatory controls, producers need to demonstrate a much higher degree of documentation in order to be considered compliant. For example, cannabis sellers need to be able to provide documentation to demonstrate the complete life cycle of their product from seed-to-sale, which means producers need to gather and store huge quantities of data about their plants.
This represents a significant logistical undertaking, and making the cannabis supply chain completely transparent has posed a considerable challenge producers and sellers alike.
New Tech the Key to Cannabis Compliance
Fortunately, these challenges have been met with a series of exciting innovations on the part of companies like Ample Organics that specialize in software solutions that can help producers track and document their product at every stage of its development.
Ample Organics' seed-to-sale system uses wireless tracking guns loaded with custom software that can instantly track and log detailed information about every leaf of every plant using an all-digital barcode system. This allows growers to immediately update their databases with the latest information about plant movements and growth, which in turn makes it possible for huge quantities of data to be gathered and managed quickly and efficiently.
The Ample Organics system also reduces the risk of serious compliance issues arising from human error: because the system is designed to be intuitive and easy-to-use, producers can handle everything from harvest to processing using flexible software modules designed with the producer's needs in mind.
For this reason, Ample Organics is already being seen as one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the legalization era. In a recent profile on the MaRS blog, MaRS digital writer Barry Chong noted that Ample Organics is already servicing three-quarters of licensed producers in Canada. Not only does this speak to the usefulness and value of the software, it is also provides an eloquent rebuttal to those who expressed concern that legal cannabis would be impossible to regulate.
With cannabis now legal in Canada for more than a month, it is clear that this industry is only beginning its ascent. But it is doubtful this smooth transition would have been possible without innovative tech solutions from companies like Ample Organics.