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By virtue of time and space, cannabis and artificial intelligence have come to share a common bond. Innovative technologies, e-commerce solutions, automation and even machine learning now characterize a relationship that has, really, limitless potential. Perhaps because they each connect so well with a strange and opportunistic space – at the vanguard of a new phase in the digital age – it only makes sense that a penchant for good business would soon flower.

Still, even before analyzing the link between cannabis and artificial intelligence, it may be helpful to build a definition of the term. According to a former lead in the AI department at Google, artificial intelligence is described, simply, as technology that can be used to do what a human can do. The implications of that denotation, of course, are astounding, sometimes even scary. But, particularly in the context of cannabis, it is an exciting term.1

Where the potential presently reaches its zenith is in the area of automated applications. Because of the sheer scale of many contemporary flowering rooms and cannabis facilities, both indoor and in greenhouse settings, the variables are a plenty. Automation – a term that has quickly become synonymous with success in cannabis cultivation – now entails data collection and analysis, among other non-human functions, to ultimately produce better crops.

How is AI Being Used in the Cannabis Industry?
Machine learning is a type of AI technology that is being used more and more in greenhouse settings. With this technology, no machines other than powerful computers are used to collect data sets to improve each grow cycle. AI has been lauded by clients in various settings, with some reporting a 50-70 percent reduction in the error rate for harvest forecasts. AI technology is being used to predict yields weeks in advance of harvest.2

One company, Motorleaf, is working with AI to gather data on intricacies like light levels and spectrum used in grow rooms. In this instance, where a human would be unable to take consistent and uniform measurements, an automated data collection system is used, which can even alert someone on the cultivation team if and when lights begin to underperform. 

Another area of the cannabis industry that is reaping the benefits of AI technology is sales and e-commerce. Artificial intelligence is being used to speed up processes, reduce errors and, ultimately, save money. Though integrating the technology hasn’t always been easy for those cannabis companies that are willing to try their hand, AI is unquestionably beginning to dictate the terms of commercial success in the industry.3

The impact AI is having on the cannabis industry is evident even in the area of mergers and acquisitions – raw economics. Namaste Technologies, a leading e-commerce cannabis tech company, recently purchased Findify, which offers AI technology including e-commerce personalization and unique delivery solutions like product recommendations. The deal was viewed as yet another way cannabis businesses have found to extract the increasing potential of AI.

As AI continues to expand its reach and cannabis fortifies its reputation as an industry quick to embrace innovation, it stands to reason that these two will continue to share a space. In terms of just how far the bounds of that relationship can truly be pushed in coming years is really anyone’s guess. What is certain at present is that the economic implications of themes like e-commerce, machine learning and automation are significant. And savvy cannabis companies are quickly taking notice. 

References:
  1. “Automation, artificial intelligence and cannabis: a tale of three friends.” https://www.cannabisbusinesstimes.com/article/automation-artificial-intelligence-and-cannabis-a-tale-of-three-friends/
  2. “Artificial intelligence (AI) cannabis cultivation technology.” https://www.greencultured.co/artificial-intelligence-ai-cannabis-cultivation-technology/
  3. “Integrating artificial intelligence into marijuana sales and e-commerce.” https://cannabiz.media/integrating-artificial-intelligence-into-marijuana-sales-and-ecommerce/

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