2020 Year in Review: How is Technology Changing the Cannabis Industry?


The global cannabis industry is worth over $70 billion and is still growing. As the industry evolves, technological innovations are making massive changes to the way cannabis is grown, sold, and used.

Breakthroughs in science and technology are affecting the industry in new and exciting ways. Here’s how these breakthroughs are changing the face of the cannabis industry.

Cultivating Cannabis

Although classified as a single plant, cannabis has a huge amount of variation. Fluctuations in the 2 active compounds (THC and CBD) produce a diverse range of unique plants.

Strength, flavor, treatment applications, side effects. Each strain has its own profile of how it interacts with a user.

Breakthroughs in DNA sequencing have made it possible to control the levels of THC and CBD in the plant. This means growers can design plants for specific uses, even for individual needs.  This control over the final product has an impact on the retail sector as well as the medical sector. 

Both THC and CBD have a similar list of benefits, for example, both substances can help with pain management. Yet, where CBD can help to treat mental disorders, THC can encourage better sleep and appetite.

Adjusting the balance of CBD and THC results in custom plants based on the individual needs of a patient. Medicinal strains may be tailor-made for specific conditions, ailments, or difficulties.

It’s possible to fast-track the production of such strains too. Methods like CO2 enrichment can increase the plants’ growth rate and yield by up to 20%.

CO2 enrichment involves giving plants more carbon dioxide in environments with a lot of light. The extra CO2 allows plants to use more of the light energy available which boosts photosynthesis.

Advances in lighting technology also play a huge role in cannabis cultivation. LED bulbs are now able to produce a much wider spectrum of light. Additionally, they only give off a fraction of the heat conventional bulbs do.

Better CBD and THC production isn’t the only driving factor in improved cultivation.

Genetic mapping has allowed the optimized production of hemp too. Meaning stronger textiles and fabrics, and other tailored cosmetic and dietary products.

Marijuana Market Technology 

The retail of recreational cannabis has exploded over the last 10 years. As the market for recreational use grew, new tech allowed retailers to cater to a wider consumer base.

Mobile apps, like Eaze and Budly, let customers place an order with their local dispensary. Their order is then delivered right to their door, following social distancing guidelines. 

This has been particularly necessary for 2020. In spite of COVID-19 lockdowns, dispensaries have managed to maintain their client base. The cannabis industry has actually seen an increase in sales in the U.S. during the pandemic.

Delivery methods are also getting updated. Automated delivery devices like drones are growing in popularity. In the future, these could become the primary method of delivery.

Other apps use GPS to help customers locate their nearest dispensary.

One example of this type of app is Weedmaps. While providing information on local dispensaries, this app also aims to educate users.

As the stigma around cannabis use fades, the industry is making strides towards educating consumers. Making knowledge as available as possible in dispensaries and online has become paramount.

Strict regulations limit a consumer’s ability to see and interact with dispensary products before the sale. Augmented Reality is one way the industry has employed technology to combat this.

A.R. apps are providing an opportunity to learn about products before buying. Information on different strains helps customers make informed decisions when purchasing from dispensaries.

There are also more online resources than ever before that facilitate learning about cannabis. 

Online courses teach the history of cannabis and the science of its use in medicine.

Courses and workshops are also available to medical experts to further their knowledge. Up to date knowledge and research into cannabis can help them determine its feasibility for their patients.

Improvements are also evident in what tech is out that is being used with cannabis. Vaporizers, infusers, and smart-grinders are some examples of the gadgets available.

Cannabis is being used with technology that makes it easier to consume. Whether by smoking, vaping, or eating, tech is changing the way consumers interact with cannabis.

Cannabis Careers

Advancements made in the cannabis industry create opportunities and impact the job market.

Software development presents the chance to work on improving current mobile apps and websites. Even develop new ones. These sometimes act as consumers’ first point of contact with businesses. 

Improving consumer experience brings repeat business and encourages a community of loyal customers.

The design and creation of technologies to aid in these fields is another area for career opportunities. AI is a good example of this. Using AI for analysis of growth cycles, and comparisons of crops is a hugely helpful resource.

AI analytics programs for cannabis production provide invaluable data to commercial growers. This would help them develop and cultivate the best product they can.

Research jobs that focus on the cultivation of cannabis are diverse. There are a lot of aspects of the cultivation process that extended research can help develop and refine. 

Perhaps the biggest career opportunity the cannabis industry now offers is production. From plant cultivation to derived products. Vape juice, oils, confectionary, and supplements are only a few examples of the plethora of cannabis products on the market. Be sure to look into joining local cannabis trade associations that can help you network with local and national businesses in the space.

Just Getting Started

By all accounts, the technology used in the cannabis industry is still in its early days. It provides ways of working towards excellent quality products to meet growing demand. 

As demand grows, it will push further innovation in technologies. This, in turn, drives progress in product quality and refines the consumer experience.

Recreational and medicinal cannabis is part of an industry that is continuing to see leaps forward in innovation. It is also finally being seen and used as a natural remedy for many ailments.