Cannabis legalization has hit its tipping point as more states are approving medical marijuana across the country. This resurgence of the once-prohibited plant is coming at a time when technology is lightyears ahead of any other prior agricultural product coming to market. At this booming time in technology, BioTrackTHC is leading the way in developing systems designed for marijuana inventory and sales, as marijuana is held to a higher standard than other agricultural product or supplement.
“Every state is different, it’s a challenge”, says BioTrackTHC CEO Patrick Vo, “We are all pioneers in one shape or form.” BioTrackTHC is one of the nation’s most-used software companies in the cannabis industry. Specializing in tracking plants from seed-to-sale, the company has been taking the local and international lead as their systems are being used all over the world. The company has official government seed-to-sale tracking contracts with the states of Washington, Illinois, New York, New Mexico, Hawaii and was recently announced as winner for the first contract in the state of California, with the city of Arcata in Humboldt County. Much like the state of New Mexico, California has an existing marijuana program – however, it now needs a state tracking system.
Its enterprise tracking software is used at more than 1,700 grows and dispensaries in 23 states and in some foreign countries. BioTrackTHC started with a mission of tracking pharmaceuticals to prevent ‘doctor shopping’ for drugs like oxycodone and pivoted to marijuana early in the emerging industry where many business operators and government agencies are trying to handle marijuana for the first time
East Coast Indications
Until recently, the cannabis movement was predominantly in the Rockies and in the West. States like Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska have adult use, but now we are seeing this acceptance and change in landscape on the East Coast — and there will be a lot of eyes on it.
The East Coast is relatively new to the marijuana market. States like Maryland and Pennsylvania are on the brink of starting their medical programs. The software company says its looking forward to working more with East Coast states and business leaders, however, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each state’s individual needs play a huge role in developing a system that’s right for them.
“It’s a balancing act for us because every state is unique and has its own culture, we don’t want to impose upon them the way we’ve done things different because their priorities may be different. They have their own views and approach and we need to respect that but also say, here are the lessons we’ve learned from other states, and help them make informed decisions based on that experience”, said Vo.
The marijuana movement, through the efforts of activists and organizers, has found its way to the financial and political hotspots of the country. On the East Coast, the Nation’s Capital and New York State have medical marijuana. Under Initiative 71, Washington, D.C. also has allowances for recreational use in one’s home and limited at-home grows.
The cannabis industry’s proximity to D.C. is going to create interesting dynamics. With such close access to another market like Maryland, “I think it can shake things…To provide greater level of visibility of cannabis industry to political leaders,” predicts Vo.
Marijuana is Becoming a Global Market
BioTrackTHC has more than 1800 commercial locations, and they have a reach that extends past national borders. They’ve paired up with Jamaican universities and are looking to the South as some South American countries like Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Brazil adopt more liberal cannabis laws.
The biggest hurdle facing the industry all over the world remains the stereotypes of the prohibited plant.
“Those who are outside of the marijuana industry, they have a stereotypes expectation of who we are,” warned Vo. “It doesn’t matter if you are a cultivation center or tech startup, there is the common perception that we are unprofessional stoners and that just because we are in the cannabis industry we think we’ll make lots and lots of money.”
It’s a problem for anyone in the industry, no matter if you touch the plant or not. “In starting a company and looking for investment, image does matter, people do judge books by their covers,” Vo said.
Advice for Cannabis Entrepreneurs:
- Look professional.
- Know your industry.
- Know your value and new service.
- Thoroughly understand why someone would pay for your service.
- Remember, just because you’re in the cannabis industry, doesn’t mean people will throw money at you.
New Industry Standards for Federal Contracts
For a brief moment, there was hope for access to medical cannabis for America’s veterans. The legislation allowing Veterans access to medical marijuana in states with medical programs had overwhelming support in Congress. It would’ve been a huge victory for patients suffering from chronic pain, PTSD, and other common wartime injuries. Unfortunately, without explicit objection to cannabis, some influential Republicans took it off the table. If it had passed, it could have meant a federal contract for a plant that’s federally prohibited under the Controlled Substances Act. It’s a complicated situation that could come up again if the Drug Enforcement Agency reschedules marijuana.
“We’ve always hoped for a federal contract, yes, when the first states looked for government level tracking and traceability systems, it was a hope there would be a federal contract,” says Vo.
In the case of Veteran’s Affairs or the rescheduling of cannabis, if there were to be any tracking across state lines, BioTrackTHC says there would need to be a greater level of standardization and uniformity with respect to the data being tracked.
It’s something they have been hoping for, however, they say the challenge remains that the industry as a whole is very fragmented on a state by state basis. For example, the way that California does things is very, very different than New York and Illinois. “Because every state is blazing their own trail, there will need to be some form of across the board standardization and guidance at the federal level,” Vo points out.