There are several different types of marijuana delivery happening across the industry supply chain every day, and if one of these delivery points or mechanisms isn’t working, problems can trickle down all the way to end users. Innovative technology from startups and established companies is helping to ensure marijuana businesses avoid those problems.
Specifically, there are four types of marijuana delivery where technology plays a significant role in boosting efficiencies, security, tracking, customer satisfaction, and ultimately, profits for businesses. These four types of marijuana delivery happen during manufacturing, distribution, and sales. Let’s take a closer look at each and the technologies that are redefining delivery as we know it.
Medicinal Delivery During Manufacturing
How do patients and consumers “consume” marijuana in order to get the benefits they’re looking for? Scientists are conducting research each day to find new ways to deliver the active ingredients in marijuana to people in highly targeted ways, so they have more options than inhalation through smoking or ingestion through edible products. Furthermore, many of these delivery methods are focused on limiting the psychoactive effects of marijuana while maximizing the therapeutic effects.
For example, some companies are adapting ideas from the pharmaceutical industry for the cannabis industry. Earlier this year, Aurora Cannabis Inc., a licensed Canadian medical marijuana producer, acquired a 9.14% ownership of Canada’s CTT Pharmaceutical Holdings Inc. Together, the companies will launch marijuana products using CTT’s dose-specific, fast-dissolving oral thin film wafers. This type of delivery system allows for rapid onset of the active ingredients (usually within 5-10 minutes) and quick delivery of THC into the blood stream.
Earlier this year, NanoSphere Health Sciences LLC received a patent for the standardized delivery of cannabis through phospholipid nanoparticle technology. The delivery platform already received the Frost and Sullivan 2018 Best Practices Award for Technological Innovation. The company sells its products under the Evolve Formulas brand and also offers products that deliver cannabinoids through the skin. Products that provide intranasal and intraoral delivery are also in the works.
Last month, The Greater Cannabis Company reformulated its eluting patch (EPP) for cannabinoid delivery. The cannabinoid transmucosal patch sticks to the inside of the mouth and allows the cannabinoids to be absorbed through the cheek. This delivery method enables cannabinoids to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream without the negative side effects associated with smoking or vaping.
In September of this year, IntelGenx Corp. and Tilray announced plans to develop products with oral film delivery, and CURE Pharmaceutical announced that, through a licensing agreement, Canopy Growth would have an exclusive license to CURE’s patented oral thin film delivery technology.
These are just a few of the companies making big moves to standardize and control cannabis dosing using technology and innovative delivery systems.
Marijuana Delivery in Support of Operations
As you move along the supply chain, marijuana products must be moved from one stakeholder to the next – from cultivator to manufacturer, from manufacturer to dispensary or retailer, and even more in states that require testing in separate lab facilities. Every time marijuana is placed in a delivery truck (regardless of the form it’s in) there is risk involved. Theft is not uncommon in this industry – even among employees – so sophisticated security technology is essential to protect marijuana companies from losses.
Companies like Safety Vision offer surveillance cameras for delivery vehicles that monitor pick-ups and drop-offs, activity around the vehicles, and the routes of all delivery vehicles. This technology can also record automatically anytime the marijuana moves, and most companies enables users to view real-time information online or through a mobile app.
Interestingly, Safety Vision didn’t start in the cannabis industry. This is a company that was already serving different industries but identified a need in the marijuana market and expanded to fill an existing gap. In other words, technology doesn’t have to be new to impact the marijuana industry. It can be adapted from another industry and still have widespread effects.
Logistical Delivery of Marijuana Products
A number of states allow licensed marijuana dispensaries and retailers to deliver marijuana products directly to patients and consumers. The delivery process can get very confusing and time-consuming because many counties and cities don’t allow marijuana delivery even though the states that they’re in do allow it. Keeping all of that information straight takes time, which is why delivery logistics software has become popular in the marijuana industry.
OnFleet is an example of logistics software that marijuana dispensaries and retailers are using to manage their marijuana delivery programs to patients and consumers. The software can help dispensaries dispatch and track their local deliveries. They can also use the software to analyze those deliveries and optimize them to reduce time and costs.
Like Safety Vision, OnFleet didn’t start in the marijuana industry. The company operates in over 60 countries helping companies manage deliveries of food, flowers, and more. Cannabis was a natural extension of the company’s technology, and it’s having a significant impact in the marijuana industry.
Sales Delivery to Patients and Consumers
With marijuana delivery legal in a number of states, including California, it makes sense that a company like Eaze, known as the Uber of marijuana delivery, secured an additional $27 million in Series B financing in September of last year (bringing its total funding to $52 million at the time).
The company makes it very easy for consumers and patients to order marijuana products from licensed retailers and dispensaries directly from the Eaze website or mobile app. Eaze takes care of confirming that the delivery address is in a location where it’s legal to make marijuana deliveries and connects the customer with a delivery driver from a local, licensed dispensary.
Eaze reports that it makes more than 120,000 deliveries in California per month and plans to expand to even more states in the near future. In addition to its current marijuana delivery technology, the company is planning to launch drone delivery of marijuana products in the future, too. Last year, Eaze demonstrated marijuana drone delivery at multiple events. While delivery via drones and driverless vehicles is not permitted in many states (including California), companies like Eaze continue to innovate for the future based on the possibilities that technology offers.
As the examples above show, technology has already had a significant impact on the marijuana industry, and with new innovations already in the works by companies like Eaze and Oblend, which Mashable reports is developing a home dispensary device that’s similar in theory to a 3D printer, it’s only a matter of time until the next phase of marijuana delivery debuts.
Will it be drones? Will it be 3D printed marijuana? Will it be something else? Only time will tell. Leave a comment below and share your thoughts about marijuana delivery.
Originally published 6/12/18. Updated 12/7/18.
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. 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.