Legal sales of marijuana are expected to exceed $33 billion by the end of 2022. According to a recent study by MJBiz, a leading B2B cannabis industry resource. This is 32% projected to increase over 2021’s total of $25 billion.
They also project that by 2026, annual sales will exceed $52 billion.
The most significant and top I.T issues in the cannabis industry are the non-integrated applications, regulatory compliance, and using point-of-sale POS, which takes too much time.
Since the cannabis industry is proliferating at high speed, the increased importance of I.T. security, cybersecurity, and managed I.T. services must be addressed. As fast as they grow, the experiences of technical issues become commonplace.
The value of the legal cannabis market was $11.3 billion last year. Some pundits project better than 30 percent maturation by the end of 2021. Growing in the cannabis company comes with a notable challenge. It is categorized federally as an illegal Schedule 1 drug. Still, in several states, medical or recreational use is legal (in various degrees). Currently, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana, with 11 declaring it legal for recreational use.
Regulations differ from state to state because there are several technological headaches unique to the cannabis industry. Therefore, there are strict limits to how entrepreneurs can market cannabis products. Since the industry is relatively new and growing, it’s become vulnerable to opportunistic data thieves. It’s manageable to notice that cannabis is now big business, which signifies that all the growth issues apply here, too.
Let’s examine 4 of the top I.T. problems and most common technical issues facing the cannabis industry.
Few enterprises are under as extensive scrutiny as cannabis. Statutes can adjust with each election cycle and even on a county-to-county basis in legalized states. Attempting to run and cultivate a customer base while remaining within strict guidelines is challenging to work. So, understandably, most cannabis professionals do not include the closest grip on I.T. security or cybersecurity.
In 2015, a Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary had a data breach. The incident was easily preventable. An employee emailed a group email to 157 patients without putting them on BCC. Therefore this individual made all email addresses on the chain visible.
However, this is not just a situation unique to U.S. cannabis-based business owners. Canada’s National Health Service experienced an attack by data thieves. They exposed the personal information of roughly 34,000 medical marijuana users. The need for I.T. services in the cannabis industry is a severe issue.
As more dispensaries open daily, staying within the law is challenging. However, balancing a pleasant customer experience is also at the forefront. I.T. security, as a result, is an afterthought.
As patient and customer data transmissions increase through POS machines and email servers, there is plenty of opportunities for hackers to steal information.
Doing business online is something nearly every industry can do easily. However, it is almost impossible for cannabis brands.
While retailers can market non-THC CBD online. The U.S. cannabis status is federally illegal, which means they heavily restrict cannabis e-commerce sales.
After recreational marijuana use occurred in Colorado, licensed retailers reported nearly $1 billion in sales in the first year. Later, CBD gummies and oils evolved into a legal status to sell online.
The legalization brought in a new issue. Previously cannabis companies implemented a cash-only payment system. As a result, cannabis companies could now accept digital payments for products that don’t contain THC.
The problem is that while marijuana is legal varying from state to state, banks are federal regulations to follow. Financial institutions can risk prosecution if they hold marijuana profits and sales.
There are also stringent rules against cannabis brands’ promotion, particularly on influential platforms such as Google, Facebook, or Instagram. Therefore this creates a more challenging position for brands to gain influence and new customers.
E-commerce platforms like Shopify are attempting to bridge the gap in Canada. However, this challenge remains for many cannabis-based industries in the U.S. American companies will first examine how Canada handles this issue to see how dispensaries handle e-commerce.
Traditional banks are avoiding cannabis brands to remain in line with federal regulations. Many businesses have shifted to blockchain and virtual currencies like Bitcoin to authorize customers to purchase products.
Many industry professionals see cryptocurrencies as the solution to cannabis’ legally-fluid status, but blockchain includes numerous problems.
Cryptocurrency authorizes easy and fast payments that can transfer into material currency. There are even marijuana-specific virtual currencies like PotCoin and CannabisCoin. However, the primary issue is that virtual currencies can vary wildly, and values fluctuate quickly.
Cryptocurrencies are also not regulated, which is risky for a growing industry that has already incurred massive risk. The absence of standardization within blockchain currencies can damage the industry rather than support it.
As the industry develops, the demand for automation will expand with it. Gone are the days of individual farmers cultivating the plant in their backyard. Now cultivation is a noteworthy part of the endeavor. Last year, the cannabis industry added almost 65,000 jobs. Some professionals dub it the fastest-growing labor market in the U.S.
To cultivate well, the marijuana plant requires regular attention, near-perfect light, and water conditions. With so many plants, it is almost inconceivable for humans to satisfy around-the-clock maintenance. Those who can afford it fund the Internet of Things (IoT), allowing agriculture tools to manage farms for ultimate productivity. But as automation advances, many fear that owning machinery will harm the quality due to a deficiency of personal touch and maintenance.
Many specialists also worry that over-reliance on mechanization could destroy the developing workforce. Therefore, machines monitor everything from temperature control to actual security, cutting back on the need for human employees.
As technology pledges to revolutionize the ever-changing cannabis industry, these are some pitfalls to avoid and discussions that must transpire along the way.
Here at K3 Technology we can help you to develop the right approach to security to protect your organization with bespoke solutions. Contact us today to find out more or check out our Cannabis Industry page!