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How technological breakthroughs are reshaping the cannabis industry

Here’s a rundown of the technological breakthroughs that will change the way cannabis is grown, sold, delivered and consumed.

cbd in persons hand
Image: Unsplash

No matter if we are looking at hemp, or its more famous cousin, marijuana, the cannabis industry sure has gone through some incredible changes in the past few years. CBD products have become the buzz of the town, as the U.S. CBD market saw a 706% growth in 2019,  while discussions about legalization for either medical or recreational use of marijuana are happening all over the world. Some would go on to say that we stand on the verge of global legalization, but I wouldn’t go as far.

While we still have a long way to go until cannabis becomes legal worldwide, or at least throughout the entire United States, it’s safe to say that the cannabis industry is expanding; and quite fast, I might add. With this expansion, comes a great opportunity for the industry: to dive into the latest tech discoveries and draw further expansion.

Technology is already reshaping the cannabis industry and will only continue to do so in many ways. Here’s a rundown of the technological breakthroughs that will change the way cannabis is grown, sold, delivered and consumed.

DNA sequencing

The cannabis plant has been used for thousands of years, and yet it does not cease to amaze us. But two cannabis plants rarely have the same balance of THC and CBD, leading to an ocean of products that become very hard to regulate. Plus, it makes it very confusing for consumers to find products that satisfy their needs. Some may be looking for products that are high in THC for recreational use, while others need high-CBD products such as the buds from OCN to help keep with their pain management.

Some leading cannabis companies are putting a lot of effort towards sequencing the DNA of the Cannabis Sativa plant and layout the way the plant produces the chemicals within.

A company based in Colorado developed a method to use CRISPR gene editing to grow customized plant breeds with no THC or no CBD entirely. What’s more, they were able to discover enzymes withing the plant that produce rare cannabinoids, such as CBC, believed to have even stronger anti-inflammatory effects.

Biochemically-customized products

Have you ever wondered why cannabis has different effects on different people? This happens because our individual biochemistry causes us to process cannabinoids differently, which makes it perfectly plausible for two people to react differently to the same strain.

These variations make finding the right blend quite challenging. And because it is a psychoactive substance, choosing a strain that does not suit you can have some unpleasant results. To eliminate these concerns, the next breakthrough in cannabis consumption needs to be customized blends tailored to your physiology.

A company called CannabisDNA is using saliva-based swab tests to determine how your body reacts to notable cannabinoids and can predict your compatibility with various strains. This could help create individualized products that deliver customized experiences to users.

Efficient growing solutions

Growing cannabis can be very expensive, especially because of the plant’s need and love for wide-spectrum light. While this is no issue in tropical or warm climates where the sun can easily satisfy the plant’s appetite for light, indoor-grown operations do need some expensive equipment. High-intensity discharge bulbs are not only expensive, but they consume a lot of electricity.

Just as the LED technology revolutionized home lighting and allowed people to significantly reduce their energy costs, it can help cannabis growers as well. Ever since NASA experimented with these LED bulbs to grow plants in space, many growers decided to give them a go.

These bulbs emit a wider light spectrum and produce less light, allowing growers to also save money on temperature control. Paired with directional lamps that point light rays straight at the plant, this could mean a lot for the growers.

Water-soluble CBD

While we do have quite a few types of CBD products to choose from, including tinctures, capsules, and edibles, the chemical nature of the product makes for very limited possibilities. CBD is essentially oil, meaning it is not water-soluble. This makes it impossible to be added to most liquid products, as they will end up separating over time.

If we were able to add CBD into water-based products such as beverages, this could mean a whole new range of options for CBD users. This is where nanoencapsulation can play a big role. Being able to encapsulate cannabinoids can lead to increased bioavailability, which is much needed for CBD products.

Only 20% of the CBD you consume reaches your bloodstream, meaning the rest of it practically goes to waste. Being able to produce high-bioavailable CD products can be a huge step for the market.

An array of online services

The way people purchase cannabis products has also changed throughout the years. Besides the wide variety of dispensaries and brick-and-mortar stores that have opened over the past few years, people can now buy products from the comfort of their own homes. Third-party delivery apps allow you to order cannabis products from a variety of supplies and will have them delivered at your doorstep.

Some have developed apps that curate and show you the best deals in town, as well as the most reliable businesses, based on user ratings. This comes as a much-needed thing, especially for those who don’t know how to choose a reliable cannabis vendor.

Aiding law enforcement

Be things as they are, cannabis still remains a mind-altering substance, meaning authorities need to ensure people don’t use it in inappropriate situations such as driving. However, it can be difficult for police officers to decide whether someone is over or above the legal limit for marijuana in their bloodstream.

Tests that are limited by the chemical composition of cannabinoids are not accurate, as those can stay in the bloodstream for weeks after consumption and can lead to false-positive tests. A group of researchers from the University of Florida has started working on technology that helps police officers administer breath tests, similar to those used for alcohol, to determine if someone is under the influence. THC is breath-detectable for only three hours after usage, making these tests much more accurate.

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