Technology Archives - Green Market Report

Taneia SurlesTaneia SurlesFebruary 4, 2021
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5min2512

Editors note: This story is part of a month-long series for Black History Month. GMR wants to celebrate Black-owned businesses in cannabis and those that have made a difference in the industry. 

Despite the many benefits of cannabis use, it is still heavily stigmatized in America, with the legalization of the plant in only a handful of states. This issue leaves those with medical validation who want to use medical marijuana limited resources to find it. Fortunately, one company has made its mission to address the limited accessibility of medical marijuana and certified medical marijuana healthcare providers.

 

Veriheal was created in 2017 by black businessmen Joshua Green and Samuel Adjetunji with the objective of providing quality medical marijuana education and resources. The healthcare technology company allows medical marijuana patients to connect to certified doctors in their state with ease to get approved for a medical marijuana card. Four years later, the Veriheal has grown significantly and is considered one of America’s top medical marijuana companies.

The company has received rave reviews on Facebook Reviews, BBB (Better Business Bureau), and Trustpilot Reviews and has been featured in Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Times, and more.

Veriheal provides a variety of services on their site that are garnered towards improving the lives of many. Listed below are the services Veriheal provides through their website.

  • Opportunity to apply for a medical marijuana card
  • Locator for medical marijuana doctors in a patient’s state
  • Consultation to gain more knowledge on cannabis and its benefits
  • Locator for local dispensaries in a patient’s area
  • Edible dosage calculator that used for calculating the potency of infused THC and CBD in food

Aside from services, the healthcare technology company, Veriheal, doesn’t aim to break their customers’ pockets. The most a customer may pay for Veriheal’s services is $199 annually, significantly less than what many medical marijuana providers offer. Their customer service is always available 24/7, and those who aren’t approved for a medical marijuana medical card can be refunded.

Veriheal has a referral program for those with an account in which users can receive a $5 credit that can be used towards purchasing a medical marijuana card. Those with an account will be provided with a referral link or coupon code they can give to their friends and family. If their referral is approved for a medical marijuana card, they will receive the credit on their account.

With its focus on improving the health and wellbeing of others, it is no surprise that Veriheal gives back to various health-related organizations. Veriheal is a charitable company that donates a portion of its earnings each year to charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project, American Cancer Project, American Liver Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, and Tourette Association of America.

Alongside their charitable donations, Veriheal also aims to help the future generation by providing scholarships to students with financial needs. The cannabis company provides a scholarship for both high school and college students in America worth $1000 each year. Prospective applicants must write an essay focused on how the cannabis industry can be improved.

Black-owned business Veriheal is one of the leaders in the cannabis industry and has proven itself to be an excellent resource for patients wanting easy access to a medical marijuana card.


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJanuary 19, 2021
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6min1670

Cannabis software company Blackbird and payment processor company AeroPay announced a strategic partnership to bring cashless payments to cannabis businesses for online ordering. Blackbird was sold in November 2020 by its parent Tilt Holdings (OTC: TLLTF).  Tilt agreed to sell Yaris Acquisition, LLC better known as Blackbird to Slam Dunk, LLC, a Nevada limited liability corporation controlled by Tim Conder, TILT’s Chief Operating Officer and a member of the board of directors of the company. The company said the total valuation of the deal was $15 million and selling Blackbird resulted in a cut of $3 million in expenses quarterly.

The partnership includes the integration of AeroPay’s payments platform into Blackbird’s white-labeled dispensary menus and the BlackbirdGo cannabis marketplace. The two companies said they also have plans to bring greater efficiencies to other parts of the cannabis supply chain such as physical retail and B2B.

“Cash payments have dominated the cannabis retail consumer experience until now,” said Tim Conder, CEO & Co-Founder of Blackbird. “As licensed cannabis operators, we know the benefits of moving toward cashless payments but also understand the challenges with banking as a cannabis business. Our partnership with AeroPay and the integration of our platforms allows our retail partners and their customers to easily accept digital payments and remove the hurdles associated with being a cash-only business. Additionally, AeroPay’s banking relationships will help eliminate barriers for our retail partners.”

Through the integration, cannabis patients and customers using Blackbird will be able to pre-pay online at the time of check-out for delivery or curbside pick-up orders. Payments made with AeroPay will be facilitated through a secure bank-to-bank transfer between the patient or customer and the business.

AeroPay is a financial technology company providing alternative payment processing solutions to state-legal cannabis businesses.  AeroPay has been approved to work in every state where cannabis businesses can legally operate as well as Washington D.C. AeroPay’s compliant solution offers a safe, simple, and streamlined way for patients or customers to pay their favorite cannabis businesses.

“Our approach has always been to create a better payment experience for both businesses and their customers,” said Daniel Muller, CEO & Founder of AeroPay. “Blackbird is a premier end-to-end logistics and delivery company in the cannabis space and our partnership allows us to do just that for the cannabis industry.”

Dispensary patients and customers ordering through a Blackbird white-labeled menu or the BlackbirdGo marketplace will have the option to pay with AeroPay. For first time AeroPay users, the sign-up process is two easy steps and happens directly on the menu at the time of check-out — customers simply create an AeroPay account and link their bank. For repeat users, payments can be completed with a single click.

While the focus of this integration with Blackbird’s menus is to improve the retail and consumer experience, both Blackbird and AeroPay also provide B2B solutions for the cannabis industry. The companies have plans to streamline the cannabis experience in other parts of the supply chain and lower the volume of cash by implementing digital payments.

“We’re excited about the future of our partnership with AeroPay as both companies have the ability to service the entire value chain,” said Conder. “This is only the beginning of a long-term relationship that has the opportunity to change the way cannabis businesses operate.”

“Payments have been especially inconvenient for cannabis businesses and we are thrilled to work with the team at Blackbird to create a seamless cannabis shopping experience that is safer, faster, and cashless,” said Muller. “Ultimately, we want to give cannabis businesses the ability to operate in the same manner as any other business would.”


StaffStaffDecember 9, 2020
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8min5710

Editors Note: This is a guest post.

Wall Street experts project the CBD industry to swell to more than 22 billion dollars over the next two years. Within a decade that number is projected to exponentially grow towards 75 billion dollars. As is with any big industry boom, everyone wants a piece of the action. Fortunately, with CBD hemp there is plenty of pie to go around. And technology plays a big role in the CBD industry from seed to shelf and beyond. 

This article goes over four important aspects of the CBD industry and how technology shapes and molds the big boom of CBD oil.

Tech-Centered CBD Hemp Farming

Farming is labor-intensive process that requires lots of tedious work. It’s no wonder that tech steps in to make certain processes and tasks more efficient. Equipment and machines that speed up tasks such as potting, planting, and digging aren’t the only kinds of technology on the farm. Visit a tech-centered hemp farm and you’ll find RFID tags on plants, biometric security systems, and incredibly advanced. 

Complex and sensitive instruments measure every aspect of the environment including soil, water, air, light, and more. Dehumidifiers, air conditioners, barometers, and all types of monitoring systems turn processing and drying harvested hemp flower into an exact science. 

CBD Extraction Tech

Extracting the beneficial compounds from hemp flower is likely the biggest tech-influenced niche in the CBD industry. Extraction is the process of separating the unwanted waxy plant materials from the desirable hemp compounds like phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. 

Different extraction techniques create numerous types of different CBD products (click here to learn more about Hawaiian Haze) generally referred to as extracts and concentrates. Some concentrates such as hash are readily made by hand, but thanks to advancements in extraction technology today’s extracts are much more complex and varied. 

High-level extraction equipment comes with a high-level price tag. Furthermore, while some types of extraction machines are simple, the top tier processors require engineers and scientific consultants to calibrate and operate their equipment properly. 

All of this combined creates a madly complex niche that takes up a huge portion of that projected 75 billion projection for the CBD industry over the next ten years. Some products produced by extraction include –

  • Vape cartridges
  • Dabs, Wax, Oil, Shatter
  • Rosin
  • CBD oil
  • Pure phytocannabinoid-rich CBD hemp oil concentrate
  • And more 

CBD Oil Product Effectiveness

Technology is also creating more effective CBD products for the CBD market, and better, more efficient products. In a free-market world, better products and lower prices that consumers want to buy are the name of the game.

Advances in the micro-encapsulation of beneficial hemp compounds such as CBD create a higher bioavailability for consumers. This means that they can get more effect and benefit from less product, saving them money and time. 

Custom crafted hemp compounds combinations and recipes are also unlocking the incredible therapeutic potential within phytocannabinoids and terpenes. There are hundreds of different beneficial compounds in hemp, each with unique properties and benefits. Every type or strain of hemp expresses various combinations and ratios of these compounds giving them a “fingerprint”. 

As hemp laws relax, extraction techniques advance and our scientific understanding of hemp compounds grows, hemp follower suppliers like MrHempFlower are leveraging new chemistry and molecular tech to meet the growing market’s insatiable appetite for novel phytocannabinoid and terpene combinations. 

It’s within this niche that lies some of the greatest opportunities for patentable intellectual property through novel phytocannabinoid and terpene products. 

AI and AR in the CBD industry

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality comprise another handful of technologies molding the shape of the growing CBD industry. Farmers use AI and big data to improve soils, keep track of inventory and plants, improve workflow within facilities, and understand market trends. 

On the market and advertising end, augmented reality offers businesses a fascinating approach to modeling, presentation, and retail.

AI and AR together are transforming the hemp industry into something hyper-interesting and new, shifting a once rebellious and illegal counter culture into a hipster-type health endeavor with all the bells and whistles. 

Blockchain and Crypto in the Hemp Industry

While governmental policies and regulations have placed plenty of roadblocks in front of the world’s biggest boom since the internet bubble, nothing can stop what is coming. A big aspect of the CBD industry has been banking and many of the world’s biggest companies have had their fair share of issues. Here steps in blockchain technology. 

Blockchain technology combined with cryptocurrency allows CBD businesses not legally permitted to operate with normal banking and financing to purchase and move money without much governmental regulation or oversight.

Niche Tech for Green CBD Industry Investors

Anyone seeking the biggest growth sectors will find immense opportunities within the various tech-centered niches shaping the CBD industry. These technologies are driving factors in this market and if you can find yourself in the right place at the right time, you may still be able to get in on the action. 

Just know that the best time to get in was yesterday, so don’t hesitate. 


Kaitlin DomangueKaitlin DomangueNovember 23, 2020
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5min5550

Paying for cannabis at a dispensary has always been challenging for both the customer and the dispensary owner. The refusal of major banks and credit cards to work with cannabis companies has resulted in a patchwork of increasingly creative ways to replicate the experience of using debit and credit cards. Many dispensaries often just install an ATM machine in the store for cash purchases, frequently hitting the consumer up for yet another expense to buy legal cannabis. Or the stores create some kind of electronic workaround that has been called into question by banking regulators. Now there is a new product that looks like it will have solved these problems but without the questionable financial gymnastics.

Tech company KindPay has created a closed-loop payment system, which means that it is able to be used only with specific merchants. Similar to other retail stores and industry mobile apps, users can credit their KindPay account with money from their debit and credit card. The mobile app will be able to be used by specific people in the cannabis industry, including dispensaries, growers, and consumers. KindPay is powered by Herring Bank, and according to the company, it is the cannabis industry’s first true closed-loop payment system. It is FDIC-insured and can be used with various debit and credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. 

“The development and launch of KindPay has been long-awaited by the cannabis industry,” said KIND Financial founder David Dinenberg, “This new app will allow dispensaries, growers, and consumers alike, to transact transparently and safely. Also, due to the pandemic, contactless and cashless transactions have become safer ways to pay.”

KIND will support participating merchants by providing devices for merchants to process transactions with, as well as an Application Programming Interface (API) to allow virtually any point of sale system to integrate with KindPay. 

KIND’s seed-to-sale software systems 

Leading up to this groundbreaking mobile app launch, KIND provided software that allowed regulators, in real-time, to know where and how much cannabis and hemp is being grown, processed, or sold. They are a well-respected seed-to-sale tracking software, and now they are getting involved with the payment system side of things. With KindPay’s launch, cannabis merchants that have been traditionally declined will have a reliable and safe payment system to use. Traditional banks tend to decline cannabis businesses, even non-plant touching and ancillary businesses, because cannabis is seen as very high-risk. Due to cannabis’ Schedule I classification, it is federally illegal and therefore banks will more than likely not want to work with those in the industry – even those operating legally at the state level. 

This cashless system also provides additional comfort for people worried about the coronavirus and physician transactions. The software will be available for legally operating cannabis business owners and operators. 

The app will be free for consumers and available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. 


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtNovember 16, 2020
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8min4990

Before there was the iPhone, there was the Blackberry. Everyone who was anyone had a Blackberry. It was a status symbol and a very functional piece of technology. It was also groundbreaking until it wasn’t. First-generation technology has its place as a pioneer, but it’s the next generation that is typically a better consumer experience. 

Cannabis tech company Strimo is a textbook example of next-generation software that is better than its predecessors. CEO Helkin Berg learned that many cannabis companies were unhappy with the existing first-generation software options on the market. In the early days of the cannabis industry, Berg says the pioneers were creating frankensoftware to address the industry’s specific compliance requirements. “Seed-to-sale” didn’t exist before legal cannabis came along. So the pioneers were tasked with creating a new product in a short amount of time. This cobbled-together software, while somewhat functional, was in Helkin’s mind, flawed.

First Generation Headaches

“It was often software built on top of older software from other industries and made to look new,” she said. “The underlying technology was not flexible.” She also felt the software was only designed to solve specific problems and wasn’t designed to harness big data or IoT (Internet of things). Operators only had a few options to choose from because, in the early days of legalization, the stigma of working in cannabis remained strong among traditional software companies. In addition to that, many of these options took months to implement and, in the fast-moving pace of the cannabis industry, companies don’t have 9 months to install a software program.

Another challenge for the early pioneers of cannabis software was the ever-changing legislation. Each jurisdiction created its own set of rules and regulations, which changes at the municipal and county levels. As the programs have matured, jurisdictions tweak the rules, which sometimes set off a new round of software updates. In addition to that, some U.S. states select their regulatory software provider and cannabis companies have to ensure that their software provider can exchange data with several different state-run programs. 

And then there is cost. Mainstream big names like Oracle or SAP command price tags anywhere from $150,000 to upwards of $1 million each year. This is a price tag that most in the cannabis industry, especially startups, can’t afford. In addition to the price tag, these companies’ implementation time can often take half a year or more.

Solving The Problems

Helkin’s vision for Strimo was to solve for cost and time. It needed to be affordable and quick to set up. It also needed to be consistent, reliable, and keep the customer’s data secure. Strimo has quickly emerged as a leading player in the cannabis tech world and is winning customers over with its improvements over existing cannabis software options. 

As Helkin talked with cannabis business leaders during the Strimo research and development phase, many expressed their dissatisfaction with the options on the market. There had been data security issues and dependability problems with first-generation solutions. Executives complained of rigid platforms that were outdated and didn’t properly provide inventory management, traceability, or data insights such as costing. Plus, many cannabis companies are in multiple states and expanding into multiple countries. Flexibility was critical.

“Companies were outgrowing those first-generation options and I saw an opportunity to fill that gap,” she said. “We can meet cannabis businesses where they are today and scale with them.” Berg’s talent lies in bringing second and third-generation products to global markets. Her background is in highly regulated industries with former clients like Bank of America, Novartis, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She chose Bret Cline as Strimo’s lead engineer. He brings over 25 years of experience in building warehouse and inventory management programs in the beverage industry. He has also designed RFID tracking systems for big names like CAT, Raytheon, and even the Department of Defense. 

Strimo’s Solution

Together, they created the Strimo platform that optimizes cannabis business operations. It’s like a multi-tool for cannabis executives and operating teams. Instead of stitching together several tools, top executives can rely on Strimo to capture their key data, from seed-to-sale, and operating teams can support daily processes. Strimo handles compliance and quality control for both cultivation and manufacturing. The Strimo platform manages all cannabis and non-cannabis inventory with full cost accounting support.  

It does all of this in a secure environment. “The Strimo platform is hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud, so in addition to having peace of mind, you and your team can access data from any device,” said Berg. 

Strimo employs a global attitude to its product. The software is multilingual and can handle multiple currencies. A big bonus for global cannabis companies. Berg said, “Our platform allows for the flexibility to send compliance data to any regulatory authority, including Metrc, BioTrack, Health Canada, Thai authorities, etc.” 

Strimo captures mission-critical data, makes it historically searchable, and helps teams forecast and plan ahead. By tackling resource planning, the platform helps executives make informed decisions instead of relying on gut instinct or “educated guesses”. 

Rising Star

Strimo was recently named the best of ERP (enterprise resource planning) Software company for the cannabis industry by ERP Focus. The reviewer wrote, “Several common ERP components are included in Strimo. Production lets you take control over your entire process, cultivation, extraction, packaging, and track your batch manufacturing.  Accounting meets GAAP, SSAE16, ISAE accounting and audit standards, and helps manage your organization’s finances.” Strimo also made the top ten list of ERP Software Providers when counted by states in a recent Cannabiz Media Software Stack report. 

As the word gets out that Strimo is making cannabis tech problems easier (not harder!) to solve, this company is one to watch. Cannabis tech has been a favorite channel among those with capital for the cannabis industry and investors are undoubtedly putting them on their radar. 

 


StaffStaffNovember 4, 2020
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6min3010

Editors Note: This is a sponsored post.

2020 has been a terrible year for retail, but one brick and mortar that has fared fairly well is cannabis. While many dispensaries did have to close during lockdowns, many quickly pivoted to curbside and home delivery. Several reported that sales rebounded once the lockdowns were lifted. Surviving Covid-19 has been a testament to a company’s ability to survive. It was also the moment of truth for cannabis companies and whether they had chosen the right partner for its retail software.

Dispensaries that used Cova Software found themselves well-armed to fight the Covid-19 battle. The company isn’t new to retail and has over 20 years of experience and powers over 20,000 locations. The company has had virtually no downtime, whether it’s Black Friday, 4/20, or a global pandemic.

Cova point-of-sale software in use at a Native Roots dispensary.

Not only were cannabis companies forced to pivot to a new retail model, many states were equally pushed to suddenly change regulations to allow for curbside delivery and home delivery. That meant that some compliance laws changed almost overnight. Luckily for Cova, its software integrates with government systems like BioTrackTHC, Leaf, and Metrc. The company was able to deftly make changes and make sure its cannabis clients remain compliant with state laws. In Canada, it can generate compliance reports for provincial regulators.

Another adjustment that cannabis retailers had to make during the pandemic was customer interaction. Meeting a customer in the parking lot was a big change for many budtenders. This meant the days of a 20-minute chit chat at the counter about products was over (at least for the time being) and speed efficiency became the name of the game. Cova says its dispensary POS (point-of-sale) offers ID scanning for registering and checking in customers, which also automatically applies taxes and discounts based on membership levels.

Another aspect of the effect on cannabis retailers during the pandemic was the need to rely on more e-commerce. Consumers often had to make purchases through the company’s website and then arrange a pickup or delivery. A basic website with a smattering of inventory offerings was no longer acceptable. Cova said that data shows that online customers reorder 2.5 times within 30 days and spend an average of $75–$100 per order. Cova made sure its software worked well with the Leafly, Dutchie, and Weedmaps platforms as dispensaries had to up their e-commerce game.

Cova can also adapt to whichever payment system the cannabis company chooses. Since the major banks and credit card companies won’t work with cannabis, retailers have had to get creative with payment methods. Legislation to address the banking problems in the cannabis industry has bi-partisan support, but cannabis laws have been a low priority. Hopefully, whoever is elected will make progress towards this issue, but in the meantime, it’s a bonus to know that even if the payment option changes, the retail software doesn’t necessarily have to change along with it.

One thing that Cova doesn’t do is seed-to-sale. The company said that based on its research, cannabis companies preferred to use a separate dedicated system for cultivation facilities. It prefers to put all its focus on retail as opposed to be a jack of all trades. “We have vertically integrated customers with both cultivation facilities and retail use that are happy with Cova,” said a company spokesman. “We fill the gap for our customers who vertically integrated their operations with best-in-class partners like Flourish. We have out-of-the-box integration with them, so the manifest, inventory and product information flow through both systems automatically.”

Another thing that has changed for dispensaries during the pandemic is customer product preference. Since Covid-19 was a respiratory virus, vape products once again took a back seat. Although flower sales continue to be strong, even though that is an inhalant product, consumers opted for traditional over convenience. Also, since many people were no longer commuting and working from home, the need for discreet vape pens declined. This type of information about what customers are purchasing is critical to maintaining the right inventory, especially since some states don’t allow for normal retail promotional activity. Having a software program that can generate detailed reports helps a retailer make good purchasing decisions.

How cannabis companies respond to this crisis will be dependent on the tools they have chosen to work with.  Since it doesn’t look like the pandemic is going away anytime soon, it’s critical to have retail software that is adaptable at a moment’s notice.


StaffStaffOctober 13, 2020
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2min16090

Drop Delivery, the all-in-one cannabis delivery management solution, raises $1M through equity crowdfunding.

The Drop Delivery platform offers advanced technology that empowers cannabis retailers with their white-labeled mobile app, a dashboard to manage inventory, dispatch and driver logistics, automated marketing tools, and a built-in digital loyalty program.

“We are extremely excited to have raised capital through equity crowdfunding,” said Drop Delivery’s CEO, Vanessa Gabriel. “We have always wanted to offer the opportunity for people to join us on this journey. This route was a better fit for us than traditional capital. “

Drop Delivery was the first company to raise $1 million on the crowdfunding platform Equifund. Funds from this round will be used for product development, accelerate sales efforts, and fuel expansion into new markets in 2021.

Equity crowdfunding has been fully legal since 2016, and it allows a business to secure capital from unaccredited investors in the United States. Like with any investment, crowdfunding is a risk, but those who provide capital can stand to profit if the business succeeds.

Drop Delivery is the first all-in-one delivery management platform designed to help cannabis retailers safely – and compliantly – sell cannabis products, collect digital payments, handle supply chain management, and manage last-mile delivery. It provides retail cannabis companies with a fully branded solution to grow their business and re-engage customers.


StaffStaffSeptember 22, 2020
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5min6210

El Planteo, a Spanish-language media outlet dedicated to delivering news on cannabis, hemp, CBD, psychedelics, gender issues, ecology, investing, local culture, trends, and more, announced its official launch in partnership with Benzinga, a dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content, coveted by Wall Street’s top traders.

“We noticed a lack of good financial content related to emerging industries and progressive topics in the Spanish-speaking world. Being from Argentina, I felt like we had to be pioneers in this space, providing a young readership in Latin America and Spain with information on business, finance, and culture,” said Javier Hasse, CEO, and Co-Founder of El Planteo. “We want to engage our readers with interesting, diverse content, while also empowering them to build their own businesses and invest in others.”

With a potential adult-use market of over 500 million people, a patient population close to 5 million, and low production costs, Latin America is quickly becoming one of the most significant cannabis markets in the world. According to a 2018 study by Prohibition Partners, the combined adult-use and medical cannabis market in Latin America is expected to reach $12.7 billion by 2028. El Planteo is headquartered in Argentina, with offices in Detroit and Los Angeles. The outlet is bridging the gap in knowledge and technology between first-world countries and developing nations in regards to sustainability and green alternatives.

Recognizing the importance of this rapidly developing market, Benzinga teamed up with cannabis journalist and best-selling book author Javier Hasse, who currently serves as Managing Director of Benzinga Cannabis, to create a platform where Latin American readers and entrepreneurs can stay up to date about industry news and trends, culture, investing tips, and much more more.

“When we brought up the idea of expanding into the Spanish-language market, Javier mentioned he had a project of his own that needed funding. After analyzing the idea, market potential and necessary budget, we decided this would be a great course of action to supplement our larger Spanish offering through Benzinga España, with a more locally-focused media outlet, El Planteo,” added Benzinga CEO Jason Raznick.

Initially released as a beta test, El Planteo has proven to be extremely successful, with very strong traffic (doubling consistently month over month over the last six months) and a large amount of content, both original and translated from a long list of media partners around the world.

El Planteo’s content has been republished on Benzinga, High Times, Forbes Argentina, Investing.com, Ámbito Financiero, Flipboard, Yahoo, and others. Content partners include Benzinga, DoubleBlind Magazine, Confident Cannabis, Goldleaf, Pick Up The Fork, Flowertown, Green Market Report, Aunt Zelda’s, The Medical Cannabis Community, Weedmaps, The Cannigma, Hoban Law Group, Cannabis & Tech Today, and others.

Green Market Report provides some content to El Planteo.


StaffStaffSeptember 22, 2020
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6min9020

The CBD market is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. In 2017, U.S. CBD sales topped out at around $190 million. Three years later, the U.S. CBD market is a billion-dollar industry that is poised to reach $16 billion in annual sales by 2025. Enabling this rapid market expansion was the 2018 Farm Bill, which federally legalized the production, sale, and distribution of hemp and its derivatives (CBD chief among them).

Yet while the Farm Bill paved the way for this billion-dollar industry, CBD brands themselves are still struggling to access even the most basic of financial services, such as credit card payment processing. Although CBD is technically legal, it is still a substance that remains unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

CBD’s unregulated status creates a host of issues for brands and the ancillary companies that service them. On June 29, 2020, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) issued comprehensive guidance to financial institutions working with hemp-related businesses.

Among other provisions, the memo removed the requirement that financial institutions automatically file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) on all hemp-related customers, making it easier for banks to service the industry.

Noticeably absent from the memo is any word regarding CBD-related businesses, due in large part to the substance’s unregulated status. Consequently, mainstream payment processors have been reluctant to embrace the CBD industry.

The only companies thus far that have been willing to service the industry are those offering high-risk merchant accounts.

A high-risk merchant account is essentially a processing account for businesses that banks would consider “high-risk.” Typically, the types of companies that open these accounts are from industries such as adult entertainment, gambling, alcohol, etc.

While a typical merchant account will charge companies around 1%-2% per transaction, high-risk merchant accounts will often charge between 3%-9% per transaction. Most notably, the payment processor Square charges CBD brands 3.9% plus $0.10 per transaction for in-person transactions, and 4.2% plus $0.30 per transaction for online purchases.

Such steep fees can make it difficult for CBD brands to prosper, especially when it comes to those that depend on online sales.

A recent report by Brightfield Group found that approximately 45% of consumers are purchasing CBD solely from the internet due to concerns from the COVID-19 outbreak. Unsurprisingly, online CBD purchasing increased by 61% from Q1 to Q2 of 2020.

The banking issue is a particularly frustrating problem for the CBD industry because, unlike the cannabis industry, CBD is legal at the federal level. For many in the industry, the assumption was that once the Farm Bill legalized hemp and CBD, that it would become easier to conduct business, but little has changed.

Recognizing the frustrations felt by those in the CBD industry, cannabis-focused compliance companies like Akerna (Nasdaq: KERN) have started to build out their platforms to support CBD brands as well. Akerna is a Denver-based compliance technology company best known for their seed-to-sale software MJ Platform.

Most recently, the company announced that they signed an agreement with Priority Technology Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRTH), to provide the hemp-CBD industry with payment processing solutions. Offering ACH, card-not-present, recurring payments, and automatic credit card information updates; Akerna aims to offer a seamless all-in-one service to both current and future CBD clients.

Looking forward, the company also hopes to leverage this agreement to help position the company as a national payment processor for the cannabis industry as well.

“With this solution, we are making it easier for our CBD and hemp clients to process payments,” said Akerna CEO, Jessica Billingsley, in a statement. “We are also well positioned to activate payment solutions through Priority for traditional cannabis sales pending legislative action at the federal level.”

Given the limited number of payment processing solutions, much less those designed specifically for the CBD industry, Akerna currently enjoys the first-mover advantage. Inevitably competitors will arise, but for now it is lonely, and profitable, at the top.

 


StaffStaffApril 29, 2020
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4min15420

FlowerHire, a leading Staffing and Talent Strategy firm serving the regulated cannabis industry has signed an exclusive Partnership with Leafwire, “The LinkedIn of Cannabis,” which connects over 30,000 professionals across all cannabis verticals – including VCs, investment holding firms, supply chain operators, distributors, manufacturers, extractors, and retailers.

To help the industry and those companies still looking to hire and grow, Leafwire and FlowerHire are also offering 30% off normal placement fees for the rest of Q2. You can contact FlowerHire for more info on the discounted ‘pandemic rates’ at leafwire@flowerhire.com.

According to Leafwire CEO, “We want to do what we can to help more it more affordable for those innovative companies, who continue to move forward and thrive, even in these difficult times. We think it’s a huge opportunity for companies to secure some very talented team members, right now, as there are people currently looking for work, who are otherwise almost always employed. It’s a prime time to be hiring.”

“By joining forces with Leafwire, we have not only broadened our ability to deliver best-in-class executive recruitment and talent services to their passionate user base, but we will also be able to help facilitate meaningful networking and innovative partnership opportunities that will undoubtedly advance the industry,”  says David Belsky, CEO of FlowerHire. 

Since its inception in 2017, FlowerHire has played a critical role in building, scaling, and retaining world class teams for the North American cannabis industry.  Clients include many of the “rising stars” of cannabis, such as DNA Genetics, Papa & Barkley, Kiva, Ascend Wellness, Pleasantrees, and Glass House Group, FlowerHire has placed more than 300 professionals across ten states to date.

“Our mission has always been to build a conscious cannabis infrastructure and community, one hire at a time,” Belsky says. “Through strategically aligning with Leafwire — which represents some 13,000 companies worldwide with members hailing from areas as diverse as Australia, India, Germany, and Colombia, among others — we will be taking our mission to amazing new heights.” 

“Discussions about job growth in the U.S. tend to focus on industries such as technology and health care, but the biggest boom over the past couple of years has been taking place in cannabis. Now, more than ever, with cannabis retailers having been deemed ‘essential’ during this coronavirus pandemic, we will start seeing our burgeoning industry among the fastest-growing job markets in America. Leafwire’s partnership with FlowerHire will help exponentially accelerate this growth. We’re truly excited to bring FlowerHire’s expertise onto the Leafwire ecosystem,” says, Leafwire CEO Peter Vogel.

 



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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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