Updated: Feb 28
By: Sanja Ganja
The Matrix was a blockbuster hit, not only for its advanced CGI, but because it depicted a possible future for humankind where machinery and A.I. consumed our everyday lives. As time progresses, it is inevitable for technology to saturate all markets - this includes the cannabis and hemp industry. Predictions have been made by specialist, that by 2020, one-fifth of the multi trillion-dollar retail market will have shifted to online. With much speculation, dystopian dispensaries may be a lot closer than you think. With robot budtenders that scan your eyeballs for identification and prick your finger for payment - the sky's the limit.
Most dispensaries used to look like a college frat house, smelling of incense and blaring Bob Marley, but now it feels more like an Apple store - with modern decor and tablets for ordering. With that being said, the idea of A.I. budtenders may not be so science fiction after all. There are many examples of A.I. taking the place of humans in retail. Food-to-go shops, jewelry stores, and restaurants all have experimented with non-human employees. Self checkout at your local dispensary sounds all too familiar since grocery stores have mostly converted to the self-checkout lines. (Not that Wal-Mart employees are ever at their register when you really need them!) Grab-and-go styled restaurants are all the craze right now, and dispensaries may be next. If all other types of stores are converting, who's to say the canna/CBD industry isn’t working on it already? It’s been nearly twenty years since retail overtook manufacturing as the nation's most crucial job creator, employing roughly one of every ten American workers. In addition to the hemp and cannabis industry which introduced new employment concepts to the retail scene, and opened doors for agriculturists and scientists everywhere. So what are we up against? Drone deliveries, Facetime bud orders, Flower Kiosks? Certainly online ordering is to be expected, but will all legal states allow it?
Regulations have been of the utmost importance. Technology has dominated the aspect of organization and compliance in hemp and cannabis businesses, and for that thousands of business owners can be grateful. So while we may be nervous for our jobs to be taken over by A.I., technology has worked like magic in lending a helping hand to dispensary employees. The cannabis industry accumulates roughly $23 billion in profit a year, so how much of that is dedicated to the profits made by the technology? There are hundreds of new companies launching with creative new ways to enjoy your flower, buy your flower, and how you grow it. The “Rise of the Pot-Bots” isn’t to be ignored either, bringing you Kiosks for faster checkouts all over large cities for your convenience.
Keeping your business compliant has always been an obstacle, with rules being complex and sometimes inconsistent. Hemp and cannabis has formed business intelligence connecting ERP systems with your marketing and labeling to fully integrating your POS to your inventory. Greenhouses are innovatively creating new ways of producing hemp and cannabis for higher yields and better quality. Old school growers would drool at the upgrades we have been given: automated watering, timed lighting, and clever HVAC tricks that could melt any plant lovers heart. Even your team has sexy dry racks and the infamous Futurola Rolling Machine, enabling them to be more efficient with their time and focus on more work. The packaging world has reaped the benefits of technology as well, creating jobs for those to operate these new inventions. Thankfully, technology has even been able to make the creation of edibles and concentrates safer by using machines like The DrainDroyd or the Aqutonix machine. The DrainDroyd is a powerful stainless-steel piece of equipment that removes waxes from cannabis-extracted oils significantly faster than typical de-waxing equipment. One of these bad boys can cost up to $20,000 with upgrades and desired parts! The Aqutonix machine is a device that can easily connect to any irrigation system, handling almost 50 gallons of water per minute, increasing how efficiently a plant can absorb water.
So when do we stop and ask ourselves - are we building the machines that we have so desperately fought against, or enjoy the benefits? The devastation of retail may happen because of online ordering, but can it truly affect the industry with its’ rules and regulations? Don’t worry, before you fall deep into a gloom about a retail holocaust, think about how far we have come and how hard the people will fight to keep it. Marijuana and hemp businesses have created so much opportunity for people and the economy. The best way to prepare for the future is to utilize what we can now for the greater good, and stick to the mission of legalizing it for the well-being of the human race and planet. If it's The Matrix we’re up against, then prepare to rage against the machine with our joints lit and armed for combat! Until then, make a difference and be apart of the cannabis movement and all its’ technological achievements!