How Will The Growing Marijuana Industry Affect The IT World, And Vice-Versa?

As with nearly any industry in existence today, the growing cannabis industry will no doubt intersect with IT and technology as a whole. What will this look like, and what will it mean for IT businesses down the road?

With each year that passes, marijuana becomes legal in more states around the country. While not too long ago it only became legal in Colorado, recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states, and that number is expected to continue to rise as time goes on.

As cannabis continues to grow into a legitimate part of the legal business world, it will be more and more important for businesses of all industries, but especially IT, to take notice.

How Do The Cannabis and IT Industries Intersect?

At the highest level, this relationship is noteworthy for the same reasons as any connection between IT and any other industry.

Let’s look at it simply. According to Fortune, the US marijuana industry will net at least 340,000 new jobs by 2020. It can be fairly assumed these won’t be “pen and paper”, analog businesses, right?

The new jobs and businesses that open as a result of the growing cannabis industry will mean a greater need for hardware and software to help manage dispensaries, maintain accounting and financials, manage sales and customer relations and more.

As with any other business, if they have hardware and software in use on site, they will need some form of IT support, either from on-staff support technicians or from a third-party managed services provider.

But it doesn’t end there – because of the particulars of the marijuana industry, there are a number of other ways in which IT will directly integrate with it:

  1. Financial Transactions

A lot of money will move around in the marijuana industry – an estimated $20 billion by 2020. However, many of these businesses will not be able to work with regular banks operating at the national level – why? Because these banks are not going to want to work with businesses operating in an industry that is still considered illegal at the federal level.

All of this is to say, what’s the solution? One is CanPay, a smartphone app that allows banks and marijuana retailers to interact without the need for cash. Using QR codes, consumers can purchase goods via direct debit from their bank, with CanPay as the go-between.

  1. Specialized Software

Marijuana retailers will also need to use specialized software for a number of different efforts, including:

  1. Sales
  2. Patient Tracking
  3. Inventory and Supply Chain Management

That’s not to mention the call for specific clinician software and automation between the Office of Medical Marijuana Use, clinicians and marijuana retailers. At the moment, these tasks are handled manually, meaning there is great potential for enterprising third-parties to develop automated and convenient software solutions to handle these tasks for marijuana providers and clinicians.

  1. Cloud Systems Integration

Don’t forget that, at each step along the way as new software and solutions are built, developed and deployed for businesses in the cannabis industry, there is the potential to integrate them with the cloud.

After all, as you well know, the cloud offers a range of advantages to any type of business – why wouldn’t this include those in the cannabis industry?

The fact is that AWS, Azure, Google, and Oracle all have data centers in states where both medical and recreational marijuana have become legal. This, again, presents a key opportunity for third-parties to step in and capitalize on the need for cloud systems integration services.

These are just a few of the ways that the growing marijuana industry presents key opportunities to businesses in the IT world. The reality is that you have to be paying attention to new developments in new industries in order to take advantage of them.

The question is – are you paying attention? If you don’t move quickly, you may miss the chance to get in before your competitors do. No matter what type of IT services you may specialize in, they likely have a place in the cannabis industry. Make sure to claim your stake before it’s too late.

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