Article by Robert Tankson, The Next Web
When Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, few could have predicted the scale of the growth which would bloom across the industry. Legal marijuana sales in the US and Canada are now expected to pass $20.2 billion by 2021 at a predicted annual growth rate of 25 percent, accounting for larger and faster industry growth than witnessed during the dot-com era.
The growth is not just being facilitated by sale of pre-rolled joints in dispensaries. Entrepreneurs, innovators and investors have jumped headfirst across a range of industries. A recent report estimated that by 2020 the marijuana industry will provide more jobs than each of the manufacturing, utilities or government sectors.
But while hundreds of thousands of Americans may be dreaming of long, lucrative careers as ‘greenfingers’, we are witnessing an unforeseen level of automation in the industry. The process of growing, packaging, selling and monitoring the sale of the plant is increasingly leaning on fully automated, ‘high’ technologies utilizing big data, the IoT, AI-powered robots, and drones, which could well limit humans’ roles in the future:
If you think that your local Starbucks has a wide variety of different beans, of different strengths and flavors, why not head down to your local dispensary and check out the wide range of different strains on offer. There are thousands of different strains with varying levels of THC and CBD, which have different tastes, strengths and effects, and thus appeal to different users.
Marijuana growers tend to farm on a large scale, with crops taking between three to five months to reach the stage where they are ready to be harvested. To help farmers grow the strains which are selling and cut out those which are not, big data technology is coming to the rescue. Headset.io, a forerunner in big data marijuana industry intelligence from the team behind Leafly, allows growers and dispensaries to make data-driven decisions based on actionable data published in real-time.
Cannabis is a sensitive crop that needs a precise balance of light, moisture and water to bloom, and due to wide profit margins available, forward thinking growers are investing in Internet of Things (IoT) powered agriculture tools to automate and control farms remotely to reduce the risk of human error.
Startups like Edyn have created sensors for large scale farms which utilize wi-fi connected sensors to stream real time temperature, light, humidity, and soil acidity data to the central cloud, which are then used to to optimize, regulate, and automate the entire harvest cycle using data from thousands of different sources.