Technology Archives - Green Market Report

William SumnerWilliam SumnerFebruary 28, 2018


Cannabis testing company EVIO, Inc. (EVIO), announced that it expects to double the number of its cannabis testing laboratories from 9 to 18 in the coming year.

As legalization spreads across the United States, laboratory testing has become more integral to the legal cannabis industry. In states like California, a shortage of testing facilities has led to a bottleneck of cannabis cultivators and a surge in cannabis testing prices. Recent reports by BDS Analytics have estimated that the California market may reach as high as $5.1 billion by 2019 and the company estimates that cannabis testing will account for as much as 5% of that figure, or approximately $250 million.

Bearing this mind, the company hopes to focus its expansion on the critically underserved California market.

Heading up the expansion are two new additions to EVIO’s management team; Albert Lustig and Ron Russak. Lustig recently departed from his position at Pfizer as State Director, where he was responsible for managing multiple districts, regional and national sales organizations. Lustig will serve as President of Operations and use his experience to help drive growth in new and existing markets.

Russak will serve as Vice President of Operations and draw upon his more than 17 years of experience working for Quest Diagnostics, one of the United State’s leading testing providers, to help the company with scaling existing and new laboratory operations. Both EVIO and Quest operate under a “hub and spoke,” business model in which over-arching decisions and resources are centralized and distributed from the “hub.” This business model is most popular with transportation companies, but have also caught in industries such as aviation and cannabis.

The company also announced that on Feb. 7, 2018, its licensee, Kaycha Holdings, became the first cannabis testing lab in Florida to gain ISO 71025 accreditation; which is the highest quality standard in the world for testing laboratories. Currently, all of EVIO’s laboratories are either accredited or in the process of accreditation.

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtFebruary 23, 2018


After selling his accounting software company Outright to website behemoth GoDaddy, entrepreneur Ben Curren thought he’d take a couple of years off. But three months into his break, he got bored. He decided to look back through his “idea book” where he would jot down various inspirations and saw the comment “look into cannabis.”

This was the genesis of the creation of Green Bits, that bills itself as the “Square” of cannabis. He did “look into cannabis” and his research showed him an emerging industry that had a huge number of complicated challenges on the retail side. His background in accounting, compliance and helping small businesses fit nicely with the skills required to tackle the industry problems.

Curren created a one-page flyer addressing the industry pain points and how to solve them. He sent it to license holders in Washington essentially saying, “Hey, we’re building this, are you interested?” To his surprise, people responded even though he didn’t have the product built. The process of asking potential customers what they needed as he was building it, helped Green Bits to deliver a strong end result. “This process helped us get our first 15 customers,” said Curren. This was 2014 before the dispensaries had actually opened. “These customers helped my funding to get this thing built,” he said.

Fast forward to today and Green Bits serves more than 800 legal cannabis retailers in seven states. The company processes more than $2 billion in annual sales through its point-of-sale system. In just a few short years, Green Bits is beginning to surpass its competitors in the number of dispensaries it works with.

The software is subscription-based and tracks inventory of marijuana for retail dispensaries and automatically provides information to the government in order to make sure the businesses are in compliance with state rules. The software also helps dispensary owners manage cash flow and inventory. The product can provide customer verification at check-in and automatically limits transactions from states where cannabis is illegal. Green Bits works with all the seed-to-sale tracking systems as well. Taking the information from these programs and then funneling that through to the proper authorities.

Curren wrote most of the original code himself with some help from his Outright coders that were working at at the time. These original founders worked during their off hours and took vacation time from GoDaddy as the dispensaries went live. They no longer work at GoDaddy.

The curse and the blessing for this serial entrepreneur was the limitation of licenses. The small number of licenses kept the company’s growth in check, but the blessing was that the slowness allowed Curren to bootstrap the company. “I didn’t have to dump in a half million dollars at once,” he said. “I could do small amounts as necessary to build the company. Now we’re around 45 people serving almost a thousand dispensaries.”

Beating The Competition

MJ Freeway and BioTrack are his biggest competitors. These companies were created earlier than Green Bits, but he wasn’t intimidated. “BioTrack and MJ Freeway pretty much ran all the dispensaries in the state of Washington. We went after the recreational market and they were in the medical. In less than four years, we took 80% of the market away from them” said Curren. “The same thing is happening in Oregon.”

The limitation of licenses is the biggest challenge for this growing company. “We need the market to be larger in order to be a large technology company,” said Curren. Ideally, he’d like to get to ten thousand dispensaries, but of course, there aren’t even that many in the country at this time.

While the Green Bits strives to protect its customers from the headaches of compliance, even this company concedes that the current situation in Washington state goes beyond what it can do. The transition from BioTrack to Leaf Data has been problematic. “It’s definitely challenging,” he said, “But Washington has the second most sales of any state. You’re moving from Biotrack that went from 5 dispensaries to 400. It grew slowly. Leaf Data has had to take it over right away when everything was already running.” Leaf Data has made the same argument when answering criticism over the problems of the transition.

Curren said it was 100% impacting businesses. He added, “It’s quite costly for us to work around these issues, but things have been improving over the past week.” In the meantime, Green Bits will continue to protect its customers from the pains of being in the cannabis industry.

William SumnerWilliam SumnerFebruary 9, 2018


The cannabis industry in Washington is in a crisis this week as technical issues concerning that state’s new seed-to-sale tracking system continue to cost business owners thousands of dollars in lost sales and diminishing inventories.

Dubbed Leaf Data Systems, the new software was developed by Denver-based MJ Freeway, which provides business management solutions and consulting services for the cannabis industry. Launched on the first of February, the system has been plagued by a slew of bugs from the very start.

According to the Seattle Times, some growers have complained that the system scrambled their shipping orders while some dispensary managers have been unable to receive order shipping manifests. In addition to slowing down or altogether halting daily business operations, some users haven’t even been able to log into the system at all.

Initially, the state was supposed to switch over to a new seed-to-sale tracking system in November 2017 but the technology company chosen as the vendor, Franwell, abruptly backed out of the contract. MJ Freeway was subsequently chosen to pick up the contract but was only given several months to put together a system.

In a letter to licensees, Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board deputy director Peter Antolin said that the source of the transfer/manifest issues was related to an unauthorized access of the traceability system.

The system intruder reportedly downloaded a copy of the traceability database and took undisclosed actions which caused the technical issue with inventory transfers. Although no personally identifying information was stolen, the WSLCB says that some information was accessed.

The intruder gained access to route information of manifests filed between Feb. 1 and Feb. 4 as well as transport information; such as the vehicle type, VIN and license plate number. Driver information was not accessed.

The WSLCB claims that the issue has been resolved and that it and MJ Freeway are working towards fixing the other technical glitches within the system, noting that there are several workarounds for the errors while the system is being fixed.

Despite the board’s reassurances, some cannabis business owners, like Cannasol Farms CEO Jeremy Moberg, are more than skeptical.

“I don’t believe it’s fixed,” said Moberg told MJ Biz Daily. “Not until I hear of retailers bringing in product.”

Moberg went on to say that he has approximately $18,000 in inventory sitting in a van because he cannot integrate his company with the Leaf Data Systems and that this week he’s had to lay off all but a handful of employees who are remaining to help him figure out the system.

“If you think about five days in this industry, it’s millions of dollars worth of transactions that are not happening,” Moberg added.

Some business owners have suggested that the state cancel its contract with MJ Freeway and go back to the contingency system left by the state’s previous vendor BioTrackTHC. But as the state continues to fix the technical glitches, cannabis businesses will continue to lose thousands of dollars; and while Washington’s cannabis industry will at some point return to normal, for many businesses, the damage has already been done.

The Back Story


 BioTrackTHC was contracted in 2013 to monitor the program with its seed-to-sale tracking, and by all accounts, it seemed to be working just fine. Then the state decided to open the program up to a public bid to see if there might be a better vendor for a better price.

In June the state selected Franwell’s METRC system to replace BioTrackTHC. However, when Franwell came to the table to begin the negotiations of planning the program takeover, talks quickly broke down. On June 9, Franwell walked away from the contract and never spoke publicly about it. One inside source said that basically, the state wanted more than what they were willing to pay for from Franwell. 

The state then chose MJ Freeway, which has had its own share of troubles last year. The company has suffered hack attacks, alleged security breaches (which the company denies) and systems failures. By winning the contract, it was also put in the position of trying to take over a multi-million dollar system with over 1,700 participants in a matter of months. No easy task for any software company. MJ Freeway issued a video response regarding the situation and trying to address market concerns.

BioTrackTHC was set to terminate its contract on October 31, but in early October the state began talking to BioTrackTHC to extend the contract. “Events occurred that brought up a potential security concern,” said Jeff Gonring, Director of Market and Communications for BioTrack. He was referring to security over data issues surrounding MJ Freeway. Regardless, BioTrack designed a work around for the state to use as it makes its transition. This band-aid approach has helped the customers and reduced BioTrack’s exposure to MJFreeway’s security problems that seem to plague the company.

Michelle JanikianMichelle JanikianJanuary 26, 2018


This week, an all-in-one platform for cannabis business owners, Cannabiz Connection, was launched.

The site serves as a social network for “canna-business” owners, as well as a directory of attorneys, consultants, contractors, start-ups, and existing businesses. It’s meant to be a business accelerator and resource, keeping its members up-to-date on things like local regulations.

“I created the all-in-one Cannabiz Connection platform to help people learn, grow and build successful cannabis careers,” says Founder and CEO, Jamie Cooper.

For now, the site is focused on the Michigan cannabis industry, where Cooper is based, but she plans to expand to other states by the end of 2018.

The Cannabiz Connection community will hold quarterly networking events where canna-business owners, along with consultants and other industry players, can meet and socialize in person. They’re also planning an annual Holiday Networking Gala.

In addition, Cannabiz Connection is starting a free weekly webinar series to educate its members on everything related to the cannabis industry. The webinars will be held on Tuesdays from 12-1PM EST, hosted by Founder Jamie Cooper. The first will be held next week, on January 30th, focused on understanding insurance choices and coverage in the cannabis industry. Cooper will be joined by Amanda Kugler and Stephanie Goodman of Bricks and Mortar Cannabis Insurance. Members can register for the webinar here.

Cooper will be joined by our own Editor-in-Chief, Debra Borchardt, on Wednesdays for another weekly broadcast, “Cannabiz & Company: Creating Buzz Around Cannabis Business News”. This one doesn’t require Cannabiz membership and is to broadcast on Facebook Live every Wednesday at 1 PM EST.

Membership is free to business professionals and gives access to the Cannabiz social network, directory, and business building resources. For those looking to advertise their products or services, like consultants or attorneys, a fee will be required.

Cooper is a cannabis industry expert who is also the Founder of Canna Media Works, a full-service marijuana consulting, advertising, and marketing agency. She was recently named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by Grand Rapids Business Journal, the only cannabis entrepreneur on the list.

Michigan Marijuana Laws

In November 2008, the Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative was approved by 62.7% of voters, making Michigan the thirteenth state to legalize medical marijuana. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Initiative decriminalized the cultivation and use of medical marijuana by seriously ill individuals who have obtained a doctor’s approval. It allows patients to grow up to 12 marijuana plants and possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana. Qualified caregivers can grow up to 12 marijuana plants for each patient, with a maximum of five patients per caregiver.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol had planned to file petitions with the state after saying it had collected enough signatures to qualify for the 2018 ballot. One problem remains, the group is struggling to pay off the professional firm it hired to gather them. Difficulty in raising money to support the group could signal a lack of support for the initiative.

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJanuary 26, 2018


Kyle Sherman, the founder of cannabis software company Flowhub knew he wanted to be a part of the cannabis industry. His personal experience with anti-depressants and his desire to rid himself of those drugs led to experimentation with medical marijuana. His success with that withdrawal gave him an intense passion to work towards legalizing cannabis so others could benefit as he had.

In 2014, he headed to Denver, Colorado as the legal cannabis market was blossoming. He worked with Dixie Elixirs, WeedMaps and ultimately ended up as a compliance officer. Through this work, he realized that there was no way to report to the seed-to-sale tracking software Metrc through an API (application program interface).

“I started to investigate and look for something that would work. Instead, I built a prototype,” said Sherman. He closed on a seed round of funding in 2015 for Flowhub and was the first to integrate with Metrc’s API. For the business owner, it provides automatic compliance with state regulators by sending back information directly. Flowhub also has a handheld device that cultivators can use to scan barcodes and track plant movement. It can track employee productivity as well, saving employers money and headaches.

On the retail side, Flowhub has a point-of-sale technology and can manage inventory. The company partnered with CannaPay for cashless payments. “We track everything,” said Sherman, noting that all of this tracking protects the business owner.

The California Challenge

His latest challenge is the California market. The state just began legal sales of adult-use marijuana on January 1, but the Metrc system is not in place yet and many businesses are operating with a temporary license. Sherman said he believes that companies will receive permanent licenses when Metrc goes live. “I also think some of the companies with temporary licenses won’t get permanent ones,” he said.

While the Denver market has embraced the regulatory environment, some Californians have been reluctant. “You’ve got folks who are open-minded to this shift and then you have other groups that are operating in the grey market and are resistant to change,” he said. “They don’t want to report to Metrc.” Sherman found this was a tough conversation to have with a lot of long-time cannabis businesses. “A lot of folks are not willing to look at solutions,’ he said.

Of course, at some point, these business rebels will have to capitulate and join the regulatory landscape or face getting shut down. Sherman noted that the savvier business owners realize they have to do this and aren’t fighting it.


William SumnerWilliam SumnerJanuary 26, 2018


Emerald Health Therapeutics, Inc. (EMHTF), along with its subsidiary company Emerald Health Sciences, Inc., announced today the completion of a letter of intent to form a joint venture with DMG Blockchain Solutions Inc., a blockchain supply chain management solution developer and leading crypto mining hosting provider.

Named CannaChain Technologies, the joint venture will develop a cannabis industry focused, blockchain-based, supply chain management system and e-commerce marketplace.

“There are notable new applications of blockchain technology to validate and assure the source, quality, and integrity of products such as diamonds, wine, and art, along with coffee and other food products,” said Avtar Dhillon, MD, Executive Chairman of Emerald Health Therapeutics, in a statement. “Cannabis is also a prime industry in which to apply blockchain supply management based on the broad spectrum of plant and growing attributes, as well as product innovation potential

As one of the earliest licensed producers under Canada’s under Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, Emerald brings to the joint venture provide industry expertise and know-how while DMG Blockchain Solutions will use its knowledge of blockchain to build a supply management system design for the unique requirements of the cannabis industry.

Serving cannabis producers, distributors, shippers, government agencies, and consumers; the parties aim to leverage blockchain’s ability to create an immutable record to instill an enhanced trust of origin, quality, and safety.

The platform will aid cannabis business owners to adhere to Health Canada’s reporting requirements by logging each step in the supply chain on blockchain; creating an irrefutable record of a cannabis product’s journey from seed to sale. Regulatory reporting requirements would be automated.

The system will be built off of an existing open source blockchain platform, which should allow for cross-industry collaboration and integration that can support global business transactions. Likewise, the e-commerce marketplace would be based on the platform and facilitate the sale of a broad product selection.

As no definitive terms have been agreed to, the parties intend to commence negotiation of definitive documentation relating to CannaChain; with key terms such as ownership of the joint venture, fees and commissions still needing to be finalized. Development of the platform will not begin until the final terms have been settled and definitive documentation has been executed.

Cannabis Blockchain Craze

Emerald is the latest cannabis company to jump into blockchain technology. mCig, MassRoots and India Globalization Corp. have all decided to expand into blockchain technology.

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJanuary 18, 2018


There is a huge disconnect between how cannabis consumers use social media sites like Facebook (FB) and how social media sites treat cannabis users. Polls have shown over 60% of Americans approve of legalization, making it one of the few things that many Americans agree upon. This is a formidable group of people that are also users of social media channels.

In survey data from Consumer Research Around Cannabis, 2.4 million over the age of 21 said they had bought or used marijuana in the past month. Of that group, 83% had logged on to Facebook. However, Facebook is very resistant to cannabis companies having pages on the site. The company regularly states that cannabis pages are promoting illegal drug use even if they are businesses that don’t even touch the plant. Many companies have complained about their pages being shut down with no warning and little recourse other than asking for an appeal from a vague link.

“I talked to the Facebook people about two years ago and tried to explain that a lot of businesses in the industry are using social media to inform and educate medical marijuana patients,” said Olivia Mannix Co-founder of cannabis marketing company Cannabrand. “If pages are shut down, then patients can’t get information about products in the stores, or find networks like cannabis patients group.” Cannabrand, like other cannabis companies, has learned that by avoiding the use of hot words like marijuana, cannabis, and weed to name a few and making sure that images don’t contain pot leaves posts can get by Facebook’s watchdogs.

Facebook didn’t respond to a request for a comment, but it seems steadfast in its approach to the cannabis community, no matter the size of the group. Cannabis company pages are generally allowed but boosted posts or ads are not.

Instagram And Cannabis

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook had been more permissive towards cannabis companies with regards to allowing cannabis posts, yet tougher when it came to allowing the profiles. According to Consumer Research Around Cannabis, only 56% of cannabis consumers even log into Instagram. Cannabis companies might be able to make these posts to reach their clientele, but then they learn the accounts disappear when Instagram decides it wants to shut them down.

Mike Coleman, Dir of Marketing for Medical Marijuana Inc. (MJNA) said, “Instagram has been more aggressive in policing cannabis. Facebook doesn’t seem to shut down pages even if they don’t allow ads.” He added, “I’ve heard of companies building a following on Instagram only to wake up and have it shut down. Its a tough place for a marketer to go.” Businesses are estimated to have spent $36 billion in social media advertising according to eMarketer, so it’s a significant place for companies to reach their customers.

Twitter (TWTR) is another marijuana friendly social media channel. Companies are given the green light for profiles and free rein on what messages they want to send out. Still, only 52% of cannabis consumers logged on to Twitter in the past month, while only 48% use Snapchat. So, the sites that seem to tolerate cannabis consumers, aren’t the sites where they are spending time. Even fewer cannabis consumers log on to LinkedIn with only 41% choosing to visit this platform.

CBD (cannabidiol) products get caught up in this marijuana blacklist. Mannix mentioned several hemp-based CBD companies, whose products are legal, but have experienced getting blackballed on the internet. Amazon (AMZN) has over 9,000 listings to purchase CBD products. Facebook allows Amazon to keep its page, even though by its own standards Amazon is promoting illegal drug use by selling CBD products, whereas a consulting firm for the cannabis industry that sells no products is considered to be promoting drug use. 73% of cannabis consumers logged on to Amazon in the past month according to the Consumer Research’s data. Making this one of the few places where cannabis users aren’t tossed aside.

Cannabis Consumers Prefer Google

Moving on to search engines, cannabis consumers are overwhelmingly on Google (GOOG) as 85% have logged on in the past month versus 44% for Bing. Yahoo is apparently not a choice at all. Jeffrey Stein of Consumer Research Around Cannabis said, “Yahoo was not included in the survey because it hasn’t been deemed relevant by our database subscribers. The primary search engines they are currently interested in are Google and Bing. If there is a sudden surge in demand for Yahoo, we would, of course, consider adding it back into our questionnaire.” “Google also has a hot list of ad words they do not allow,” said Kyle Porter, President of CMW Media. “Even in metadata or in the description you can’t use the words marijuana or cannabis. This makes it hard to reach the consumer with a new brand. For publishers, it’s hard to monetize content or reach consumers through traditional digital marketing plays.”

Porter noted that for some businesses, these “hot” words are found in the company name makes it even more difficult to use Google as a way to steer customers to the business. Porter did point out there are several websites that have been created to help the cannabis community get around these roadblocks. The drawback to these sites is that marketers aren’t able to reach fresh customers. They are already “singing to the choir.”

Internet Radio Allows Drugs In Songs But Not In Ads

Music seems to be a bigger pleasure with 54% logging into Pandora (P), while 50% choose Spotify. I Heart Radio is at 45%. Only 19% chose Google Play Music and 8% listened to Slacker Radio. While music sites regularly play songs that sing about drugs, they aren’t so happy about running ads for cannabis companies. “We’ve avoided Spotify and Pandora as well because we can’t target them,” said Porter. The irony is that The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers found in a study, “116 of the 279 unique songs (41.6%) had a substance use reference of any kind. Ninety-three songs (33.3%) contained explicit substance use references.” In other words, its okay for the artists but not the advertisers.

Netflix And A Preroll?

Cannabis consumers do love their entertainment with 74% enjoying streaming video and TV shows. Netflix is the provider of choice with 58% using that service. Amazon Prime was used by 29% and Hulu was used by 27%. Only 18% used iTunes. Maybe Netflix is the channel of choice because of its embrace of the community. Netflix has created original programming around Columbian drug lords in Narco, a light comedy based in a dispensary called Disjointed and a drama simply titled Cannabis. Netflix also created its own collection of cannabis strains with names that pay homage to shows like Orange Is The New Black. The collection was sold at the Alternative Herbal Health Services in West Hollywood last summer. Netflix obviously doesn’t have the same issues that Facebook does.

Just Send Me A Text

Really, the best way for businesses to reach consumers is through their phones. The vast majority of Americans – 95% – now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones are now 77%, up from just 35% in Pew Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011. So since most people own smartphones, that means most cannabis consumers own smartphones. Loyalty programs from companies like Baker push out promotional notices to customers through text messaging. Dispensaries just skip the middlemen and go directly to the consumer. Coleman said, “We have engaged in push marketing and it’s been effective. It’s a great way to build a contact list.”

All of the marketers believe that at some point all of these social media channels will change their policies and begin to be more friendly to cannabis companies. Once cannabis is legalized, they will probably change their policies to accept some form of advertising. For now, none want to run afoul of federal law and are opting to take a conservative approach. The question will be whether cannabis companies will feel they need these outlets when that time comes. Most have been forced to work around them for years and may have little desire to dance with them once they are ready.

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtDecember 29, 2017


MassRoots, Inc. (MSRT) has formed MassRoots Blockchain Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MassRoots, Inc. dedicated to developing blockchain-based solutions for the cannabis industry. 

We believe blockchain has the potential to enable the cannabis industry to operate more efficiently and with a greater degree of accountability and transparency,” stated MassRoots Chief Executive Officer Isaac Dietrich. “MassRoots looks forward to being a pioneer in exploring blockchain-based solutions for the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry.”

It’s a big move from Dietrich, who just recently regained control of the company he founded following a messy boardroom coup. Dietrich has been on a mission to keep MassRoots alive amid a failed acquisition of CannaRegs that triggered his ouster. He was able to gain shareholder support to get his old job back as CEO and may even resurrect the CannaRegs deal. Part of his strategy to save the company was to pivot from the original goal of becoming a social media giant like Facebook (FB) to becoming a software, tech brand for the cannabis industry.

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value,” according to Dan and Alex Tapscott in the Blockchain Revolution (2016). MassRoots stated in its press release that the most well-known application of blockchain technology has been cryptocurrencies, which have grown to a market valued at more than $600 billion, according to

MassRoots has made cryptocurrency transactions over the past year and has turned a profit on the investment. Entering the blockchain space is another way for the company to shift more towards becoming a cannabis software brand.

Plans For Blockchain In The Cannabis Industry

The company believes that blockchain will be useful in improving seed-to-sale traceability and will explore that with its new point-of-sale system called MassRoots Retail. This system was formerly known as Odava, a company acquired from the CEO Scott Kveton who orchestrated the boardroom coup.

MassRoots will also look into using blockchain to improve supply chain contracts. The idea is that with these smart contracts, dispensaries would be able to automatically order more product when the inventory is low for that product.

It could also eliminate third parties in various transactions and create a peer-to-peer system. MassRoots also believes that blockchain has the potential to streamline social network data while eliminating the security risk. The company said in its statement, “This would enable advertisers to better target consumers, reduce the risk of security breaches, and enable the development of solutions that better serve the MassRoots community.”

MassRoots Blockchain is also “exploring how distributed-ledger technology can be applied to proxy voting and giving MassRoots’ shareholders a greater degree of transparency and communication.” Clearly, Dietrich is inspired as a result of his experience in rallying shareholders to his side in his CEO battle. 

More information is available at

Jack SmithJack SmithDecember 15, 2017


Marketing automation platform Baker, the self-described “Salesforce of Cannabis,” has received $8 million in a new Series A funding round.

The new funding will let the Colorado-based Baker keep growing, particularly in California and Washington, where it recently acquired Seattle-based Grassworks, the second-largest customer relationship management platform in the cannabis industry. It will also use the funds to open an office in Los Angeles, starting next year.

“We’ve built the industry’s leading CRM product, and now we’re truly focused on providing a platform to allow Baker and our partners to offer best-of-breed solutions to our massive retail network,” Joel Milton, CEO of Baker said in a statement. “This funding will allow us to continue to execute on our platform strategy, and help all of our clients grow their businesses — including those in California gearing up for adult use.”

The funding round was led by Poseidon Asset Management and includes other venture capital firms, such as Panther Opportunity Fund and Phyto Partners. It also included participation from previous investors. The $8 million in funding is on top of $3.75 million the company has previously raised.

Keeping Dispensaries Happy

Baker uses what it describes as unique “data-driven approach” to help cannabis dispensaries keep customers happy and boost revenue. The company boasts that its clients see a 40% boost in order size and a 300% return on investment in just six weeks. Its software is used by over 700 dispensaries across the country, helping the company attract the new funding.

Baker has also created a robust customer loyalty program that dispensaries are using to tap repeat business. Loyalty programs are relatively new to cannabis retailers but are quickly becoming a favorite way to communicate with customers.

“Baker has continued to grow at an impressive rate, and is breaking away from the pack in a big way,” said Morgan Paxhia, Co-founder and Managing Director at Poseidon Asset Management. “Unlike anyone else in the space, the team continues to cultivate and craft unique solutions for its customers and scale at a remarkable rate.”

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtOctober 31, 2017


Washington State’s marijuana program is a hot mess and the state only has itself to blame. The state monitors its legalized marijuana program by tracking the marijuana from seed to sale. Every single plant is tagged from its point of conception to its final use and sale through a sophisticated software program. The program is used by every license holder and covers thousands of transactions daily.

One of the reasons for such an onerous tracking system is that marijuana is still federally illegal. States have been allowed to operate marijuana programs that have been legalized at a state level so long as they abide by guidelines listed in a document from the Department of Justice called the Cole Memorandum. The goal of the memo was to make sure legal marijuana did not make its way into the black market or in the hands of children.

The state is changing vendors and the transition has gone very badly forcing businesses to manually keep track of the marijuana plants until the new vendor can take over. The problem is that anti-marijuana forces could point to this debacle as vindication that legalized marijuana is a bad idea because it can’t be properly monitored.

 BioTrackTHC was contracted in 2013 to monitor the program with its seed-to-sale tracking, and by all accounts, it seemed to be working just fine. Then the state decided to open the program up to a public bid to see if there might be a better vendor for a better price. This isn’t such a bad idea because states should always try to see if they can save their taxpayers money and always seek to improve programs. However, the execution went horribly wrong.

In June the state selected Franwell’s METRC system to replace BioTrackTHC. However, when Franwell came to the table to begin the negotiations of planning the program takeover, talks quickly broke down. On June 9, Franwell walked away from the contract and never spoke publicly about it. One inside source said that basically, the state wanted more than they were willing to pay for from Franwell. Then the state tried to throw Franwell and the cannabis businesses under the bus by saying that Franwell wanted to charge too much money for RFID tags that the businesses didn’t want. Thereby deflecting attention away from its poorly managed transition.

Another theory from a blog PA Marijuana Medical Watch suggested that the state made demands on Franwell that weren’t in the original Request For Proposal (RFP) causing them to walk away. This blogger believes the state decided to pick MJ Freeway’s Leaf Data Systems, a seed-to-sale software company because it is getting advice from the advocacy groups National Cannabis Industry Association and Marijuana Policy Project, both investors in MJ Freeway.

Whatever the reason, Franwell walked away from a lucrative contract with the state of Washington in nine days. The state then chose MJ Freeway, which has had its own share of troubles this past year. The company has suffered hack attacks, alleged security breaches (which the company denies) and systems failures. It desperately needed a win this year. However, by winning the contract, it was also put in the position of trying to take over a multi-million dollar system with over 1,700 participants in a matter of months. No easy task for any software company. MJ Freeway issued a video response regarding the situation and trying to address market concerns.

MJ Freeway insisted that its software problems were resolved in a matter of hours and that customers were back online quickly. They also point out in the video that the task they are taking on is very complicated and takes more time than what the state had allotted.

It’s a huge program with thousands of transactions every day and hundreds of businesses involved,” said Jeff Gonring, Director of Market and Communications for BioTrack. “This is not a simple transfer of data.”

MJ Freeway was set to take over from BioTrackTHC on October 31 but now isn’t expected to take over until January 2018. The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board has come up with a contingency plan for November 1. It’s message to the businesses, “You must keep a record of all required activity associated with your business. If you have a third-party, commercial software provider consider contacting them to review your coverage. Some software systems may capture traceability transactions for later reporting which may minimize your manual reporting requirements.” In other words, sharpen those pencils for your spreadsheets. Not only do these businesses have onerous rules and regulations they have to abide by, they now have to manually track this information and then two months later transfer it to a new program.

“The whole situation is still pretty dynamic between the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, many of traceability platforms active in the state and other marijuana licensees, new information seems to be coming through on an almost hourly basis,” said Mindon Win Special Operations Coordinator at BotanicaSeattle. “The marijuana industry here in Washington is banding together to come up with solutions that keep us in compliance and able to continue doing business.”

So, what about BioTrackTHC in all of this mess? The company was set to terminate its contract on October 31, but in early October the state began talking to BioTrackTHC to extend the contract. “Events occurred that brought up a potential security concern,” said Jeff Gonring, Director of Market and Communications for BioTrack. “We need resolution on that security concern before entering into an extension.” Gonring is referring to an email that was sent to Washington licensees last month from someone claiming to have sensitive data that seems to be proven as accurate.

We are concerned about the breach. We are currently in a co-mingled state and we need assurances from the LCB that it has been remedied. We can’t expose our system to that,” said Gonring. “There is enough smoke to give us concern there is fire.” BioTrackTHC is so concerned the company issued a public letter to the Washington State LCB. At this stage, BioTrach THC hasn’t officially agreed to the extension, nor has it declined.

The security breach that Gonring believes happened is outlined in the public letter. He noted that BioTrack began a data dump in August to MJ Freeway in order to assist in the transfer of vendors. Then in September, the licensees received emails saying that a hacker had gotten sensitive data from the Washington dispensaries and wanted to sell it. The data seemed to be real and the emails weren’t seen as an idle threat. BioTrack seems to suggest that the timing is not a coincidence.

In the meantime, the state has sent out spreadsheets to business owners.  The opportunity for human error is enormous. There are almost 20,000 pounds of marijuana that are produced each month in the state that must be tracked and traced. There were 3.8 million pounds of extracts produced in August in the state that must be accounted for and the state logged $1.3 million in sales for the fiscal year 2017.

The business owners seem to be the one group left out of this equation. They are at the mercy of the state and its mismanagement of the tracking system. “I don’t want to speak for everyone but we hope people recognize that marijuana businesses are invested in compliance with the state and it’s in everyone’s best interest to demonstrate our ability to run a regulated and monitored cannabis market under these circumstances,” said Win. 

It gives anti-marijuana forces fuel for their fire to claim that legalized marijuana can’t be properly monitored. They will argue that over the next two months, marijuana can end up on the black market because it can’t be properly tracked and traced. They could be right.

Washington State’s debacle could hurt the legalization efforts if this proves to be true, especially ahead of the holiday season which is when sales rise. The entire situation could have been either avoided by remaining with a program that worked without any hiccups or at least giving a vendor enough tie to properly prepare for a transfer of services. In the end, the problem must be owned by the state for creating this self-inflicted wound.

About Us

The Green Market Report focuses on the financial news of the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Our target approach filters out the daily noise and does a deep dive into the financial, business and economic side of the cannabis industry. Our team is cultivating the industry’s critical news into one source and providing open source insights and data analysis


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