The marijuana industry is bursting with creative innovations from marijuana entrepreneurs. As the marijuana industry grows, we’re seeing smart entrepreneurs shifting mainstream solutions to the cannabis market, and we’re seeing many new innovations debut. Some of these innovations are unique to the marijuana industry, and others are innovative takes on existing products and services that are being used in different industries.
The number of marijuana entrepreneurs continues to increase, and with that growth comes new and evolving solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the innovations that are shaping the future of the cannabis industry.
1. Disrupting Industries
In November of last year, Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth Corp. told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that his cannabis company plans to disrupt four industries in the future: beverages (including alcoholic and sports recovery drinks at a minimum), opioids, sleep aid drugs, and veterinary products.
We’re already seeing signs that the cannabis industry is disrupting other industries with Constellation Brands (maker of Corona Beer) and Altria (maker of Marlboro cigarettes) investing in Canadian cannabis producers.
An industry that you might not think cannabis could disrupt is the greeting card industry, but it has already had an effect. The greeting card industry is worth $7 billion, and creative marijuana entrepreneurs are quickly stealing market share. What was once an established industry with few surprises is being disrupted by the entrance of brands like KushKards.
KushKards are marijuana-themed greeting cards that include a pre-roll affixed to each card. There are 35 handmade designs to choose from and some seasonal designs. KushKards also makes its own line of cannabis industry stationery.
The company grew primarily through appearances at events and gained traction in 2017 with placements in New York Fashion Week gift bags. Today, the company has 10 retail locations across five states, and its products can also be purchased online or at shops across the country.
The question now is – what industry will cannabis disrupt next?
2. Cutting Costs
Noticing that most marijuana growing time is spent trimming plants, Joshua Mezher invented Turbo Trimmerz, which enables users to trim faster and with less physical stress without sacrificing control and precision. Turbo Trimmerz was one of the first inventions to come out of the marijuana industry.
Another way cannabis growers can reduce costs is through automation, and Bloom Automation is developing a robot that will use computer vision and machine learning to trim cannabis – a job currently done by hand by staffs of human trimmers. While still in beta, Bloom Automation expects that the robot will be able to trim cannabis three times faster than humans.
3. Changing Grow Facilities and Cultivation Processes
The team at FlexMOD is focused on the future of marijuana grow facilities. The company designs, engineers, constructs and installs custom, modular grow facilities including certified C1D1, C1D2, and CO2, extraction labs and grow rooms. By providing modular designs, FlexMOD speeds up the process of getting a grow facility in place while reducing the costs.
Other innovative technology from companies like Motorleaf, GrowLife, and urban-gro use artificial intelligence and data to automate cultivation monitoring and management processes and to optimize growing conditions. Cultivators that use these technologies can improve their crops and lower costs.
4. Replacing Alcoholic Beverages (and Fitness Drinks)
Mountjoy Sparkling Water wants to replace alcoholic beverages and fitness drinks with its marijuana-infused water. With many athletes touting the benefits of marijuana in recent years, it’s not a stretch to imagine Mountjoy Sparkling Water stealing market share in the fitness beverage market. For this market, Mountjoy Sparkling Water is positioned as a healthy, sugar-free source of energy that people can purchase at medical marijuana dispensaries.
At the same time, Mountjoy Sparkling Water is targeting people who drink alcohol for social experience. Rather than getting drunk, drinkers can choose Mountjoy Sparkling Water and get a fast-acting THC buzz instead.
The product is available in a number of states, and new flavors as well as a CBD-only version are being launched. The CBD-only version will be available in grocery stores and liquor stores since it’s not psychoactive, but the flavor is the same as the THC version of the product.
5. Automating Marijuana Business Compliance
Everyone in the marijuana industry knows that marijuana business compliance is extremely challenging. State and local rules vary and change frequently. To solve that problem, Pyrotree Inc. developed Webjoint – a software product that enables businesses to capture data about sales, inventory, distribution, delivery, and more for compliance reporting.
Rather than worrying about tracking every detail and generating reports for state and local government agencies, Webjoint takes care of everything automatically and even offers some business management and marketing tools in addition to its core inventory management tools. Currently, Webjoint is available to retailers and cultivators in multiple states, but the company plans to expand in the United States and internationally in the near future.
What Innovations Will Debut Next?
One of the most exciting aspects of the marijuana industry is the innovative spirit of the creative entrepreneurs who are trying to solve problems with new products and inventions. Many marijuana entrepreneurs have filed for patents to protect their inventions – as Joshua Mezher did with Turbo Trimmerz. Others are bringing innovations from other industries to the cannabis market.
One thing is certain in the cannabis industry, innovation from creative entrepreneurs is welcome and will continue to thrive – hopefully for many years to come.
Originally published 7/31/18. Updated 1/11/19.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. She has been working with clients in the cannabis industry since 2015. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.