The legal cannabis space only exists in its current form thanks to the hard work of thousands of coders, designers, and engineers who created complex tracking systems based on the needs of cannabis consumers, regulators, and businesses. Compliance, report generation, and seamless integration with state systems like BioTrack THC and Leaf are not only utterly necessary within the industry, they’re all services provided by tracking software. As the leading provider of software for cannabis testing laboratories, Confident Cannabis is more than a thought leader, they’re an authority on track-and-trace seed-to-sale systems.
We spoke with their VP of Growth and Marketing, Brad Bogus, to learn how seed-to-sale tracking adds validity to the industry. Further, Bogus reveals how Canada’s federal climate will spur innovation in every area of cannabis development, at least north of the border.
Cannabis & Tech Today: How is cannabis supply chain tracking different from supply chain tracking in other industries?
Brad Bogus: Cannabis is one of the most regulated consumer products out there. When you’re talking about going to the store and buying food items, or alcohol or tobacco, we are far more regulated.
For instance, if you buy a bottle of vodka, you don’t have any information as to where that wheat came from that made the vodka, or the potatoes that made the vodka, let alone how that wheat or how those potatoes were grown, what chemicals were used in them, or what seeds they were derived from. Or, if you went to a grocery store and tried to buy some pesto, you’re not going to have a report on where the basil was grown, how it was grown, and what we fed the cows before we milked them to turn it into Parmesan cheese. But that’s the actual reality of the cannabis industry.
Whether that product is an edible, raw flower, or oil, every step of the process has to go through laboratory testing and has to be tracked from seed to sale. Your seed is tracked in the system, then it grows to a clone and it’s tracked in the system and sold as clones. Or it grows into a plant and it’s tracked in the system as it moves from room to room. Once it’s been harvested, you have to track its wet weight. Once it’s cured, you have to track its dry weight. There are so many different checks and balances put into this process, you literally cannot accomplish it without technology.
Tracking and knowing that everything you’re seeing has been tested and verified is a necessity for a healthy cannabis market.
C&T Today: Do you think accurate supply chain tracking helps the industry’s validity?
BB: What will help create that paradigm shift is showing a responsible market that is tracking every single step of the way, that is creating healthy products for the consumer, and that is provable down to the certificate of analysis of every lab test. That’s why we initially became involved in lab testing. We provided a platform for laboratories so they could send these things to their clients in an effective manner, that it would look good, they would understand the information, and would actually be able to use that information in their marketing or on their labels. We want companies to be leading with this information.
When it comes to validity, the market needs transparency. It needs authenticity and it needs verified information that is already required by regulations. If we can showcase that in much greater detail and add a bit of volume to our marketing messages so that everybody understands this is one of the most responsible products on the market, that will shift the mindset of some politicians who still are a little bit skeptical as to whether or not this is a healthy product. You can kill that skepticism pretty easily if you’re able to show them all the data and science behind it.
C&T Today: What are some of the legislative barriers that are hindering technological innovation in the industry?
BB: The biggest one is the state of federal legalization, which has a ripple effect. It’s preventing investors from traditional backgrounds from getting involved in the industry. That lack of major cash infusion is preventing innovation.
We’re not able to bring in legacy business owners, even with the allure of a new industry starting from scratch, because at any point in time it can be taken away by the federal government. That alone is enough to prevent money from coming into the industry and helping us blossom with innovation.
Banking is another major stopping point. Most technology companies are trying to enable either customers or businesses to transact with one another. But we can’t because we can’t use credit cards, generally speaking, to do anything with one another, especially when it’s buying the actual cannabis product. That final little bit of being able to process that payment means the difference between current tech companies having some resources or having a ton of resources.
Federal legalization and federal banking, those two obstacles alone have kept a lot of money and a lot of innovation out of the industry. Those things could change anytime within the next two to five years, and then you’ll see the floodgates really open for innovation in the industry.
C&T Today: How do you think Canada’s recent legalization of adult-use cannabis will affect American cannabis markets?
BB: My idealistic side wants to say that Canada is going to provide competition, sort of like the Space Race, to accelerate our adoption of federal legalization. With this administration though, that just doesn’t seem like a reality.
I don’t expect it to have a major impact on the consumer market in the U.S. Conversely, when you’re talking about where investors are placing their money, and where you will see more innovation and more investor dollars, Canada will definitely have more of that.
Their innovation won’t be as stymied as our innovation, and as a result, it could make them much more dominant in the cannabis space than we are. With those obstacles that I mentioned earlier out of the way, I can only imagine how much more rapid their innovation and development will be than ours.