ONE CODE, ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES FOR CANNABIS BRANDS AND RETAILERS

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to have your cake and eat it too…. and it gets better. For very little upfront effort, Cannabis Brands can unlock a host of operational, sales and marketing opportunities.  All from this tiny pattern of dots on a regulatory label!

 

ENTER THE FUNGIBLE CODE

The “fungible” on-pack code, meaning a single code can be used for many different functions and by many different users, allows for incredible flexibility and efficiency for Brands.

A unique code, automatically included on every item, allows brands to unlock a wish list of capabilities: from inventory check-in optimization for their retailers, real-time sell-through data for brands, to product authentication, product safety, recalls, usage guidance, budtender training and incentives, and even fully featured consumer loyalty.  Consumers and retailers alike don’t even need to download an app to access this rich set of functionality. 

 

SO HOW DO YOU DO IT?

A simple modification to the regulatory label that takes only an hour or so to implement, puts the code on each and every package without any further effort required. Set it and forget it. Once implemented, most brands see efficiency improvements over their standard label printing process, eliminating the need to hand-transfer information from the COA or reformat the label every time a batch changes.

The key to a fungible code’s flexibility is it’s fidelity.  By using serialized, unique codes at the unit-level, Brands are able to deliver and gather data on every interaction with that individual package. 

 

DO IT RIGHT….. DO IT RIGHT AWAY!

These item level codes called Lucid ID’s,  giving cannabis Brands control of their message, opening up a direct to consumer and budtender channel, deliver visibility on inventory, and allow Brands to be dynamic, supportive partners to their retailers, budtenders, and consumers alike.  Operationally, Lucid ID’s costs mere pennies and are 280E friendly, making them one of the most cost-effective, impactful improvements to ops, sales, and marketing available to Brands today. If building a direct to consumer (DTC) channel for a fraction of what it would ordinarily cost OR deriving significant ROI from operational efficiencies into your supply chain is important to you, then get them integrated right away, there is no better time than now.


2020: The Year of the Virtual Budtender

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED

As the cannabis industry rolled into 2020, markets were already seeing a steady increase in online ordering and digital engagement, even as many brands still had nascent digital strategies in place to address this growing channel. BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) purchasing was saving consumers and retailers major queue time and markets like CO finally passed laws to allow the slow rollout of home delivery in the state.  But the global Covid-19 pandemic threw gasoline on that fire, and overnight, twenty-four states including Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Mexico, permitted curbside pickup outside of dispensaries.  Nevada made drastic moves to enforce cannabis by home delivery-only, statewide. 

This presented unique challenges for brands who were accustomed to in-store activity and budtender relationships delivering the bulk of their consumer messaging.  But it also gave brands a huge opportunity to connect directly with consumers.

 

ENTER: THE VIRTUAL BUDTENDER

If a budtender recommendation figures into 80% of all purchases (Brown, ElevatedInsights 2018), delivering the knowledge a budtender or in-store experience might deliver, and much more, presents unique challenges in this new digital cannabis economy.  Enter the virtual budtender, who can deliver product authentication, full product descriptions, dosage guidance, processing standards, and actual COAs for the product the consumer is holding in their hand.  As importantly, it paves the way for a true digital connection with consumers, providing information for brands to understand how consumers are using the brand’s products, channel-building tools to activate the digital direct to consumer (DTC) channel, and other features to allow brands to cultivate true brand affinity and loyalty.  Better yet, the seamless integration of this capability on-pack has made ROI nearly automatic –  just pennies per package and virtually no additional operational overhead.

 

HOW TECHNOLOGY ENABLED THIS TRANSFORMATION 

The first tech challenge was operational:  How can we get the codes on every package at scale, without disrupting production?  Innovations in digital print management and identity management allow brands to integrate serialized QR codes into the regulatory labels they already place on products.

The second tech challenge, and probably most importantly, was the poor user experience of forcing a consumer to download an app in order to engage with digital packaging.  But by 2019, all iOS and Android phones had native QR code reading built into the camera itself which is 99.6% of smartphones.  Anyone that knows how to pull up their camera and click a link can now engage directly with the brand and product in their hand.  

It no longer matters if the consumer had a brief encounter in-store, home delivery, picked up curbside, or simply forgot everything their budtender told them. The guidance is always easy to access, accurate, and consistent because it is coming straight from the brand for an exceptional product experience – every time.  Brands are taking this digital shift as an opportunity to connect directly with the consumer, joining the leaders of other industries in taking control of their brand and product communication.  

 


Is Cannabis Ready for Blockchain?

Cannabis Dispensary Magazine 

From the vaping crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent events have intensified the need for transparency and trust in the cannabis supply chain to ensure packaging and products are contaminant free.

Now, perhaps more than ever, supply chain partners and customers want more information about industry practices and products.

Blockchain, steadily gaining adoption in other markets, could be the next game-changing technology for the cannabis industry. Proven in mainstream food safety, pharmaceuticals and other sectors, blockchain-powered platforms offer potential benefits for everyone, from breeders with new genetics to consumers shopping dispensary shelves.

Understanding Blockchain Basics

Cannabis attorney Braden Perry, partner at Kansas City, Mo., law firm Kennyhertz Perry, helps companies implement novel and emerging technologies, including blockchain. An expert in enforcement, digital currencies, and regulatory and compliance issues, Perry suggests the easiest way to envision blockchain is to think of it as a digital ledger—one that contains a series of unchangeable records.

Rather than transaction lines found in general financial ledgers, blockchain contains information packets called “blocks.” The blocks are connected chronologically to form a chain. They store a wide range of product-specific and transactional information, including the time and date for specific actions, product origin and process steps or product inputs. For the cannabis industry, critical data in a block might include genetic information, lab results, cultivation inputs, supply chain logistics, location tracking and consumer feedback. Blockchain has endless applications and can be used to record and track anything.

A typical end user of a product doesn’t see a block, they just see a software program interface. How the information “looks” to an end user will depend on how the blockchain-powered software product they’re using presents that data to them.

Unlike traditional databases, the blockchain ledger is decentralized. The information it holds is stored across multiple locations, entered by trusted partners and synchronized by consensus of those partners, protecting data integrity. Once created, a block cannot be changed. New data, including corrections to prior entries, result in new blocks. The original block remains constant, an immutable record of what’s within.

“From a seed-to-sale perspective, especially in today’s regulatory environment in the legal marijuana industry, the recordkeeping and reporting is very complex,” Perry says. “This automated ledger ensures [information] cannot be altered from either an intentional standpoint, such as a forgery or other type of wrongdoing, or an unintentional standpoint, such as an error.”

Overcoming Misconceptions

Perry points out that many people erroneously believe that blockchain and cryptocurrency are synonymous. Larry Levy, CEO and co-founder of Lucid Green, also notes that many in the cannabis industry have struggled to separate the two concepts. While blockchain technology makes cryptocurrency possible, they are not the same. Blockchain, free from the risks and regulatory issues associated with cryptocurrencies, can just as easily power seed-to-sale tracking systems, genetic validation or transparency of lab results.

Lucid Green, a cannabis supply chain platform, launched in late 2018 with a blockchain-empowered product QR code aimed at brand-to-consumer and brand-to-budtender education and marketing—and a token-based rewards program. The platform received strong resistance from brands swayed by misconceptions about blockchain, Levy says. “It completely blew their minds,” he recalls. “They were in a high-risk industry anyway. Then here’s another thing they see as high risk.”

Now, Lucid Green keeps it simple. “We don’t bring up blockchain because [brands] are not interested in the technology,” Levy says.

The company’s private blockchain network operates as a centralized database for now. “But the minute the industry grows up and can sustain and support decentralized, trusted actors putting data in, we’ll just switch that on,” he says.

Levy’s experience highlights another misconception, that decentralized blockchain platforms expose proprietary information to the world. With permissioned blockchain networks, you control who sees what and who creates blocks. Blockchains can be public, private or a combination of both. And, yes, separate blockchain networks can communicate.

“You can have your own enterprise blockchain where certain information is shared and other information is siloed off,” Perry says. “If you’re worried about potential intrusion or corporate espionage, private blockchains are a way to lock up the information where you only have access to it, but the reporting is secure.”

Exploring Blockchain Uses

As blockchain’s benefits become better known, blockchain-empowered cannabis-related products and services will grow. Robert Galarza is CEO of TruTrace Technologies, whose blockchain-based StrainSecure program registers and tracks intellectual property (IP) in the cannabis industry. In partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest pharmacy chain, TruTrace is piloting blockchain-secured programs to track and trace “from genome to distribution.” Decades of enterprise technology experience fuel Galarza’s enthusiasm for blockchain’s potential.

“With blockchain, we can get all the information—even the efficacy studies and consumer feedback and all of that—put into a system that can make it readily accessible by the parties that need to access it at any time, and the information is secure,” he says. “In the supply chain, it brings an integrity to this industry that we’ve never had.”

The following are some of the ways blockchain-powered technology is already benefiting cannabis and non-cannabis businesses:

1. Rapid, real-time traceability. Blockchain’s secure technology ensures an accurate, permanent record, but it also allows rapid access to specific details within the large amounts of stored information. With blockchain, businesses can instantly get a specific product’s full history and access present and past locations in the supply chain.

A high-profile, mainstream example is Walmart’s incorporation of IBM blockchain technology following E. coli scares with romaine lettuce in 2018. Blockchain reduced the time it took supply chain tracking to locate lettuce sources from seven days to 2.2 seconds. Galarza says blockchain offers the same speed to cannabis supply chains.

2. Improved efficiency and reduced costs. Labor remains one of the largest expenses for cannabis businesses, whether they operate cultivation facilities, retail shops or both. Perry believes blockchain can streamline time-consuming tracking, reporting and auditing, and eventually reduce the need for staff and oversight related to those functions. “Obviously, upfront costs are going to be there, but in the long term, businesses will likely save,” he says.

3. Product validation and standardization. Levy suggests the greatest cannabis-related potential for blockchain’s decentralized, distributed ledger lies with genetics. As Galarza points out, cannabis has long been identified primarily by street names. Under blockchain-powered programs like the Shoppers Drug Mart pilot, genetic cultivar information is being collected, registered, tested and published through the secure, permanent infrastructure blockchain provides.

Growers can protect their IP. Researchers can identify specific genetic and chemical profiles. Medical providers and retailers can be sure they receive consistent products and verify provenance, testing results, patient outcomes and other immutable information.

4. Compliance efficiencies. For U.S. growers bound to state-mandated tracking systems, Levy expresses doubts about blockchain’s promise: “From a compliance perspective, I just don’t see the need to overcomplicate what is already a very onerous process because of the whole track-and-trace requirement that the states have decreed.”

But Perry believes that part of blockchain’s power lies in compliance and enforcement. “[Blockchain] eliminates human error and the ability for mischief along the way and really eliminates any fear that a state or a regulatory body might have that anything has not been reported properly,” he says. “Being able to provide bulletproof evidence that your compliance is complete is the biggest advantage right now.”

Galarza sees opportunities for blockchain-improved compliance by supporting systems already in place. “We don’t want to replace track-and-trace. We want to empower track-and-trace,” he stresses. “We have to be the ones to support [those systems].” He says that’s done by building tools that help bridge gaps and can touch many competing seed-to-sale platforms and push information between those systems.

5. Consumer confidence. Blockchain-powered scannable codes and other technologies can increase transparency and provide end consumers with secure, verified product identification and information to drive confidence and brand loyalty.

“With blockchain, whatever way you want to show a consumer how your product is superior to others, from seed to sale, you can prove that without having to deal with claims of bias or inaccuracy,” Perry says. “I think it’s really important from the consumer standpoint to know exactly what they’re getting and how they’re getting it.”

Galarza expands on blockchain-empowered opportunities for cultivators and dispensaries. “Through scanning a QR code or some newer packaging technology, [consumers] can know what’s in this exact product and batch, down to the more granular details if you want them to see them,” he says. “It’s just a matter of saying, ‘OK, we have full, transparent traceability.’ From a quality assurance perspective, why wouldn’t we make that accessible to individual customers and patients on the packaging?”

Anticipating Blockchain’s Future

Though the cannabis industry has been slow to embrace blockchain, Levy says he anticipates rapid change: “Many of the cannatech solutions that are out there have literally grown up out of people’s basements because the big software companies didn’t want to touch a weed company.” He believes that consolidation and normalization will bring blockchain leaders into the cannabis industry. “That’s how the industry is going to grow up,” he says.

Perry agrees that mainstream blockchain platforms will enter the cannabis industry soon. “It likely willbecome much more enticing both to big technology as well as the industry itself,” he says. “Once one of those big companies gets a product out there, there will likely be a snowball effect. I really think it is the future of the industry from at least the supply chain and the tracking aspect.”

Galarza expects companies like Shoppers Drug Mart and Walmart will drive blockchain adoption as cannabis matures and supply chains grow more complex. “Companies need to know what they’re getting is safe before they put it in the hands of people,” he says. “I think that’s already what we’re seeing in Canada and what we’re seeing with the bigger companies in the U.S., where we’re seeing it a little bit more [on] the CBD side.”

Galarza advises cannabis businesses, from breeders to retailers, to look ahead and understand the infrastructure demanded by the food, drug and consumer packaged goods (CPG) industries—that blockchain-secured technologies help provide—and then work together to see the cannabis industry thrive.

“The maturity I hope to see in the industry in the next couple of years is everyone says, ‘We love this industry. We want to see it grow.’ We have to band together and do the best we can at what we do,” he says. “And if somebody does it better, then we go back to the drawing board and work harder to make what we do better. That’s the one thing that I hope to see as we evolve.”

 

Jolene Hansen - jolene@lovesgarden.com


IS COVID-19 DRIVING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN CANNABIS? HOW DO BRANDS GET ON-TRACK?

The post on the left has been circulating on LinkedIn from a variety of sources and it got us thinking: Is Covid-19 to thank for the momentum in cannabis digitization? The silver lining here is these safety measures for online ordering, curbside, and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup Instore) have forced cannabis retailers and brands to consider their digital presence now, solving the current pandemic dilemma and also finally setting themselves up to turn the typical cannabis branding challenges they’ve faced for years to their advantage.

Why is this such an important evolution for the cannabis industry?  In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nike, the sportswear giant, was able to increase digital orders 36% to drive global sales up 5.1% to $10.10 billion because they doubled down on their digital practice, knew who their customers were, and how to reach them.  Read more at the WSJ (subscription required).  Is there a cannabis brand that is not jealous of that flexibility?   But for some, it is already an essential part of their cannabis branding and consumer experience.

HOW TO START DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION NOW: STEP 1: BRAND ASSET MANAGEMENT

This foundational step is often why brands can’t even get their digital practice off the ground. You cannot deliver a quality digital experience if the live menus, POS systems, and content providers have outdated brand and product images, made-up, incorrect, or incomplete product descriptions. Frankly, no one has the time to reach out to hundreds of content providers every time you make a change. The SOURCE powers the Lucid Green interactive packaging experience and brands also use it to distribute all their digital assets effortlessly to all digital content partners with the free SOURCE API – live menus, POS systems…you name it, instantly updated with the latest product shots, newly written descriptions, or newly launched SKU details the minute you enter them in.  Digital consistency and efficiency.

 

STEP 2: CREATING A BRAND “VIRTUAL BUDTENDER” AND NEW DTC CHANNEL

Trust and transparency have always been important, but now without the typical in-store experience and often buying from retailers online without any budtender/caregiver consultation, it has become an essential part of the brand and consumer relationship. Brands lay the railroad tracks for their digital practice by creating a brand-new DTC channel right off their own packaging using unique, unit-level LUCID IDs integrated elegantly into their regulatory labels with zero operational cost. The “virtual budtender” experience enabled by LUCID IDs allows consumers to simply point their cell phone camera at the package to instantly access all the knowledge they need to have the safest, most predictable, and most enjoyable experience with that product, even accessing batch-level COAs and specific product dosage guidance – all without needing to download an app or sign up for anything at all. Brands like Papa & Barkley, Green Revolution, Mary’s Medicinals and Foria are engaging directly with their consumers this way, creating a rich branding and product experience online or in-store.

STEP 3: CAPTURE USERS AND DRIVE ACTIVITY

How do the top brands build a true relationship with those consumers? The final component to get to know the consumers and build that relationship. Consumers are encouraged in Lucid Green to register upon scan to verify product authenticity, giving brands the most effective tool to fight against counterfeit and black-market operators who are taking advantage of the out-of-store trend, giving consumers peace-of-mind and helping pave the way to pulling those consumers into the brand's CRM. To sweeten the pull and gamify on-going interactions, brands light up Lucid Green’s built-in brand loyalty platform. Consumers earn “Bud tokens” (points) upon scan that can be redeemed later for branded swag or discounted products.  Users also track dosage, create favorites, share their favorites with friends and a host of other features - key data for a brand.  Bhang, Nuvata, Gold Flora, and Green Revolution have been using this gamified digital channel to remain top-of-mind campaigns, push new SKUs to an already receptive audience, drive online purchases, and supercharge in-store activity.

One brand that’s enjoyed a head-start on using this technology is ROVE Brand, based in CA. They have amassed 10s of thousands of registered users in less than a year, adding 100's more every day.  ROVE has activated this channel to dramatic results, running digital campaigns that can drive higher than 20% scan rates.  So while other brands suffered through the vape-scare or scramble amidst Covid-19 pressures, Rove routinely activates their DTC channel to gain market share and drive consumer engagement without the need to rely solely on unscalable in-store promotions, elusive cannabis retailer support, and the maddening tangle of cannabis advertising regulations.

Brands need to solve the Covid-19 challenges now and catch their digital practice up to match the new retail cannabis landscape. LUCID ID’s and THE SOURCE offers an incredibly deep and nearly instantaneous way to jumpstart a brand’s digital practice with minimal investment and upfront effort.

Contact Lucid Green at info@lucidgreen.io for more information and to get started today.

 


Lucid Green Announces Partnership with Rove to Implement Intelligent Cannabis Authentication Technology

PR Newswire

NEW YORKMarch 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Lucid Green, the leading trust and transparency platform developed exclusively for the cannabis industry to offer instant access into product-specific information, today announced a brand partnership with Rove, a leading producer of vape technologies and premium cannabis oils. Through this relationship, Rove will implement Lucid Green's LUCID ID technology on all packaging, allowing consumers to easily verify product authenticity, earn rewards, view verified test results and receive guidance on product dosage and effects. The partnership empowers Rove consumers with the knowledge they need to have a safe, predictable and enjoyable experience.

Before implementing LUCID ID, Rove demonstrated its commitment to consumer safety through a self-implemented QR system beneath a peel-off sticker on all of its packaging, which could only be scanned once. LUCID ID will provide Rove with an evolved, scalable solution that will allow the brand to grow as it builds consumer trust and transparency.

"We are thrilled to support Rove in their expansion and consumer safety objectives," said Larry Levy, CEO of Lucid Green. "Our partnership with Rove sets the bar for forward-thinking brands that prioritize transparency and education."

Lucid Green's LUCID ID utilizes QR-codes that consumers can easily scan with a smartphone camera to access accurate and detailed product information, all in one platform. Users can earn rewards, view the actual testing certificates, product ingredients, as well as user reviews and experiences. Rove is implementing the LUCID ID on all of its packaging for all product lines across California and Nevada, in addition to future markets.

"Consumer safety is front-and-center for our operations, so it is extremely important for us to provide robust authentication that allows our brand to scale," said Paul Jacobson, President of Rove. "Lucid Green is the most advanced solution we have seen, and we are excited to partner with them."

About Lucid Green
Lucid Green was founded in 2018 by data veterans Paul Botto and Larry Levy with a singular mission of building a standard for trust and transparency in the cannabis ecosystem. Lucid Green's revolutionary information platform provides brands a channel to connect directly with both consumers and retail staff; enabling brands, distributors and retailers to provide the most accurate product information and improve their customers' experience. Lucid Green's total transparency platform allows consumers to verify product authenticity, understand effects and usage recommendations, view test results, scan reviews and track their experience – delivering a safe, predictable, and enjoyable experience. 

CEO Larry Levy on What Needs To Change For Cannabis To Be Accepted By Tech

Bezinga

Cannabis Tech Companies On Restrictions At CES: ‘Lots Of Room For Growth Ahead’

The tech industry and the cannabis industry are having a hard time getting along.

Apple Inc.’s recent ban on all vaping apps from the App Store is just another stone in the mountain of restrictions that tech giants are presenting to cannabis companies.

The Consumer Electronics Show conference held in Las Vegas from Jan. 7-10 is the latest example. The CES is one of the most important annual gatherings for consumer technology companies and is organized and produced by the Consumer Technology Association.

Keep Labs, a cannabis tech company, was banned by the CTA from using the word “cannabis” while showcasing their products at the conference.

Keep, the company’s flagship product, is a smart storage box designed to keep cannabis at home fresh, discreetly saved and away from the hands of children. While the company was allowed to show the product, the CTA asked the company not to refer to cannabis in any way and present it as a non-specific storing device.

On account of this request, Keep said it decided not to participate on from the CES floor.

Keep Labs co-founder Ben Gliksman told Benzinga that, while his company wasn’t attempting to bring actual marijuana or marijuana products to the show, they did rely on using the word “cannabis” for their presence.

Ironically enough, the CTA handed Keep an honoree mention at its 2020 CES innovation awards for home appliances.

PAX, a cannabis tech company that manufactures smart vaporizers, was not allowed to participate at CES.

“We were told by CES they don’t allow cannabis companies on the show floor,” a PAX spokesperson said.

Is Cannabis The Weed Of The Tech Industry?

Keep Labs’ Gliksman told Benzinga he hopes the incident will help to bring awareness to the challenges that the cannabis industry faces in the tech space, and enable a broader conversation, especially as the regulatory environment changes.

“This seems to be another example of the challenges every cannabis tech company faces. We got shut down on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Stripe. We haven’t been able to get a single ad approved from Facebook and our Twitter handle got blocked,” Gliksman said, in reference to the many restrictions that tech giants present to cannabis companies in terms of paid advertising and their overall online presence.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, told the Associated Press that his organization gave this issue a lot of thought before acting.

“We draw lines, we have to. We don’t allow pornographic. We don’t allow content where children are killed. We don’t allow anything with vaping,” he said, adding that “marijuana has been a tougher one.”

“I think we’re waiting to see if it’s a little more legal, at least around the country,” he concluded.

What Needs To Change For Cannabis To Be Accepted By Tech?

Larry Levi, CEO and co-founder of Lucid Green, a tech company that brings smart digital solutions to the cannabis supply chain, told Benzinga he believes these issues will resolve themselves once the mainstream tech industry gets more involved in cannabis.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens when these established players focus heavily on the cannabis industry, and attempt to displace the niche cannatech players that filled the gap, because these established players historically chose not to sell to cannabis businesses.”

For Tim Conder, COO of TILT Holdings federal legislative reform is the key.

“Along with these changes will come greater acceptance both in the mainstream news media and at events like these, not to mention broader business and research opportunities. We’re clearly still in the early days of this industry, and there is lots of room for growth ahead,” he said.

Keep Lab’s Gliksman remains positive about the future of his business relative to the tech sector.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to work with the CTA in 2021 to bring a cannabis track to the CES show,” he said.

This article was originally featured on Bezinga, 20 January 2020


Lucid Green’s Cutting-Edge Tech Featured in MJBiz Daily

Marijuana Business Daily

How cannabis vape companies are using technology to ensure consumer confidence and bolster sales

The worst days of the vaping crisis are likely behind the state-legal marijuana industry, but many MJ firms are turning to technology to help further boost cannabis vape consumer confidence as well as deal with the dip in sales that followed the health scare.

Examples of tech-based solutions available to cannabis companies include:

  • Providing certificates of analysis (COA), including thorough testing results, via smartphone technology.
  • Including QR codes with smartphone apps to help consumers monitor dosing, usage, etc.
  • Encrypting cartridges to combat counterfeit vape products. That helps to separate legal products from the illicit market, which many industry watchers blame for the vape crisis.
  • Going beyond state testing requirements to ensure products are safe.

Paul Botto, co-founder and president of New York-based cannabis tech platform Lucid Green, said consumers are demanding to know what’s in their cannabis products and tech solutions provide a convenient way for them to access that information.

“For us, and increasingly for the general industry, it all comes down to trust and transparency,” Botto said.

Recent vape sales analysis

The vape crisis has hurt business in all adult-use cannabis markets in the U.S.

And while vape sales are edging back up in major markets, most have not yet fully recovered to what they were before.

Here’s a rundown of some recent sales numbers:

  • Vape’s share of adult-use markets in California, Colorado and Nevada has either trended upwards or remained flat since October.
  • In Nevada, the share increases are especially notable, as vape’s share of the market could reach precrisis levels soon if it continues to steadily climb.
  • In Washington state, a four-month ban on flavored THC products instituted in early November has continued to hamper vape sales overall – though it’s not a definitive sign that consumers are turning away from the category.

Certified analysis

Enter technology.

 

Screen shot of Pod ID system. (Photo courtesy of Pax Labs)

At Pax Labs, a San Francisco marijuana vaporizer company, Senior Vice President of Product Jesse Silver said the company’s app gives people access to information so they know they’re making a safe choice.

It had been in development prior to the vape crisis, but  was rolled out in November to address consumer concerns.

The Pod ID system is available on smartphones using the Android operating system and allows consumers to access information about the pod they’re using. (Apple recently banned all vaping apps.)

The app shows the COA, state testing results, information about the producer and the cannabis strain, including potency as well as consumer reviews about the strain and its specific batch.

“We want to be educating consumers about what they’re consuming,” Silver said. “We feel like access to those certificates of analysis is a great place to start.”

Silver said consumers have been asking for these options.

As the platform provider, Pax’s goal is that a consumer can go into any dispensary, buy a cartridge and have the lab report available.

Smartphone connectivity

Lucid Green offers Lucid ID, which is designed to offer instant access to specific information about cannabis vape products.

Screen shot of Lucid ID. (Photo courtesy of Lucid Green)

Smartphone-equipped consumers can scan a QR code, or Lucid ID, to pull up a vape product’s state-approved lab results, dosage guidelines, ingredients, effects, user reviews and more.

“It’s important for consumers to have access to information that says this is a tested product,” Botto said.

He added that the demand for his product has gone up as the vape health crisis raised alarms.

Budtenders at marijuana retailers also can scan products using the QR codes to help communicate to shoppers that a product has been adequately tested.

Beyond alleviating safety concerns, consumers also receive the added benefit of tracking usage, including dosage, to help determine what works for them and what doesn’t.

“This transparency has really started to matter at the consumer level,” Botto said, adding that black market products are less likely to include such a feature, which should help drive consumers away from the illicit market to the legal market.

Fighting counterfeits

One concern with the vaping crisis came from knockoff products designed to look like they came from licensed cannabis companies.

Airgraft, a Montreal-based vape technology manufacturer, sells vape oil pods containing an encrypted chip that communicates with the vaping device to ensure only legal-market pods can be used with the device.

The pods are connected to a specific batch of vape oil that is stored in Airgraft’s servers. When the user activates the device, the servers confirm the oil is legitimate.

Like the other vape tech mentioned above, a consumer can use the Airgraft app to access the pod’s COA and evaluate  contents, including lab test results.

“If you’re going to inhale it, you should know what’s in it,” said Mladen Barbaric, founder and CEO of Airgraft.

The company has launched in California, and, according to Barbaric, has maintained stringent standards for which producers it works with.

For example, it doesn’t allow any cutting agents such as vitamin E acetate – which has been identified as a possible culprit for the illnesses – in its cartridges.

Above and beyond

At Lucid Oils, a Seattle-based cannabis extraction company, the company tests its oil once it has been put in the hardware to determine if any heavy metals have leeched into the oil.

Even though the state of Washington doesn’t require the test, Jim Makoso, vice president at Lucid Oils, said the company does that to maintain quality control.

The oil is tested first for the standard contaminants such as mycotoxins and microbials, then again once the oil is heated and exposed to the hardware similar to how a consumer would use it.

Makoso noted the additional test adds thousands of dollars to his business expenses, but “it’s a very small cost for piece of mind.”

This article was originally featured on MJBiz Daily on December 23, 2019


Lucid ID: The Standard for Security & Authentication

The Truth about QR Codes, Product Authentication and Consumer Protection.

Why does Lucid Green use QR codes?

When we designed our platform, our development team carefully considered which underlying technology to use in order to address two pivotal real-world concerns.

  • What is the most bulletproof foundation for securing data and ensuring that information in each individual, serialized, encrypted Lucid ID cannot successfully be corrupted, forged, or duplicated?
  • How can we provide that information to consumers and the entire supply chain in a way which encourages engagement and can be easily accessed prior to making a purchase?

The fact is, there are several secure technologies available to address the first concern, so we looked at those several options from the lens of:

“If we provide information to consumers, but they never view it, what good is it?”

In other words, how can we limit the friction points between a consumer and authentication, accurate product information, potential effects, dosage recommendations, quality reviews, and COAs?

It’s from that perspective we chose the QR code, and while it may not be patented technology, it does the two things both us and our brand partners need it to do:

  • Keep our brand partners’ and consumers’ data safe from malicious attacks and their products protected from counterfeiters.
  • Allow anyone with a smartphone to easily access this content-rich information set, simply by using their camera.

Lucid IDs are used by your favorite brands to ensure consumer protection and product authenticity.

Why is ease-of-use important?

Volumes of readily-available consumer insights and well-publicized research on market intelligence have given us clear insight into how a customer reacts when they are on the consumer journey. Limiting the number of actions needed are pivotal to completing the journey to a successful engagement.

While 30% of consumers will download a brand’s application for a discount or incentive, and 24% will download a brand’s app for exclusive content, only 4% of consumers will download an app if it’s mandatory to make a transaction. According to Deloitte, more and more consumers are unwilling to download apps until they see the value in the content; when that content is visible only in app, the probability of engagement drops dramatically.

When additional action steps are needed to receive purchase-driving information, the consumer will either bypass that step, or gravitate to a similar product which offers a more seamless experience.

What about competitors with proprietary technology?

Authentication companies who have patented, proprietary on-pack solutions are defeating their own self-stated purpose. In looking to differentiate themselves by the proprietary nature of their on-pack solution, they have placed form and flash over function — their codes can only be read after you download their proprietary application — unwittingly limiting consumers’ access to the very information they need!

By failing to factor in how consumers interact with product and packaging in a real-world dispensary environment, they have missed the mark on engaging with the customer on their own terms.

HOW IT WORKS:

Authentic Product Scanned using Built-in Camera

When a consumer scans an authentic Lucid ID using their phone’s camera app, they will be taken to a web page showing the product details, with a pop-up that displays immediately directing the consumer to verify the product using the Lucid Green App.The consumer can dismiss the pop-up to view the details of the product without verifying its authenticity.

 

Authentic Product Scanned in App

When first scanning a Lucid ID, Lucid Green pairs the specific product item with the consumer account to track which user purchased the item. That consumer is presented with the “Product Authenticity Verified” banner.

 

If any other consumer scans that same item (and it hasn’t been marked as counterfeit in Lucid Green), they will not be able to verify product authenticity and will be presented with the banner: “Product already claimed and authenticity cannot be confirmed”.

 

Scanning a Counterfeit Product

When a consumer scans a counterfeit Lucid ID using their phone’s camera app or the Lucid Green App, they will see a warning screen directing them to contact the brand named on the product prior to consuming the product.

Lucid Green Product Authenticity Protection automatically protects consumers in the following instances:

Scanning a hacked Lucid ID with an invalid product identifier

If a counterfeiter uses a Lucid ID, but changes the QR code to use an invalid product identifier, we won’t have a record of that unique product identifier. This protection works when the Lucid ID is scanned:

  • Using phone’s native camera
  • Using the Lucid Green App

Scanning a Lucid ID that is flagged as counterfeit

Lucid Green can automatically or manually flag Lucid IDs as counterfeit based on geographic, time-based, and historical signals based on our algorithms identifying anomalous patterns. This protection works when the Lucid ID is scanned:

  • Using phone’s native camera
  • Using the Lucid Green App

Scanning a hacked Lucid ID that resolves to a 3rd party website

If a counterfeiter uses a Lucid ID, but changes the QR code to point to a 3rd party website, the Lucid Green App will see the counterfeit website url in the Lucid ID. This protection works when the Lucid ID is scanned:

  • Using the Lucid Green App

Why is security so important to Lucid Green?

When Lucid Green launched its “Trust and Transparency Movement” nearly two years ago, it was with a singular vision: establishing a standard for trust and transparency in the cannabis ecosystem, and looked to execute on that in two ways.

First, we built a revolutionary information-sharing platform that provided a channel for brands to connect directly with both consumers and retail staff; delivering the most accurate product information and improving consumer experience. Second, we created the Lucid ID, an on-pack mark which empowers the consumer with the knowledge they need to have a safe, predictable, and enjoyable experience.

Over the past two years, we have partnered with numerous brands; from those new to the marketplace to those with international name recognition. What has driven those partnership is the value we all place on changing the way cannabis knowledge is provided by empowering the consumer.

We call it “Trust and Transparency”.

To our brand partners it means taking action steps to promote and support those companies who are doing business responsibly and ethically; making a positive change in our industry that empowers the consumer with the knowledge they need to have a safe, predictable, and enjoyable cannabis experience.

To consumers, it means everyone, everywhere can have on-demand access to accurate, valuable, and trusted information – where they need it, when they need it. By doing this we enable the public to have confidence when purchasing and peace of mind when consuming.


Lucid Green CEO, Larry Levy, Signs NCR’s Social Responsibility Pledge

National Cannabis Roundtable

December 10, 2019

Launch Plan to Promote Social Justice, Equity and Diversity in the Cannabis Industry

WASHINGTON – The National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR) today pledged its commitment to fostering social justice, equity, and diversity in the cannabis industry.  With the launch of NCR’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, member companies will lead the cannabis industry in addressing injustices caused by the federal prohibition of cannabis. Looking to do their part to reduce the negative impact of the War on Drugs, specifically in those communities disproportionately affected by it, NCR members will commit time, talent and financial resources to pursue social justice measures, equity in business and diversity and inclusion within member companies.

Lucid Green CEO, Larry Levy, takes a public stand for social responsibility.

“We are not just having a conversation about how the cannabis industry can benefit those most impacted by decades of discriminatory drug policy, we are taking action,” said Dr. Chanda Macias, MBA, Ph.D., Owner of NHHC, and First Vice Chair of NCR.  “It is critically important to the future success of cannabis in America that we build justice and equity into the very fabric of this burgeoning industry.”

Some states with legal cannabis, including Massachusetts, California, and most recently Illinois, have developed social equity programs through their license structure, but no state has pushed businesses to take a reflective look at their own operations. NCR’s Corporate Social Responsibility program is our members’ effort to address that void and to ensure real outcomes with regard to justice, equity and diversity and inclusion.

NCR Executive Director Saphira Galoob said that members will begin 2020 assessing their internal practices – providing a baseline look at where they are today through the goals and activities outlined in the social responsibility pledge while developing targets for greater impact within their own operations.

“Our members are passionate about promoting social responsibility in this fast-growing industry,” said Saphira Galoob, NCR Executive Director.  “NCR is proud to bring cannabis into the mainstream and harness its potential to benefit our communities.”

NCR will engage subject matter experts from minority, adversely impacted, and designated beneficiary communities to advise the organization on the effectiveness and impact of CSR. These subject matter experts will work with NCR members and staff to ensure the integrity of the program and to measure performance and accountability.

“Social equity is intrinsic to where the cannabis industry is going and responsible companies have an obligation to build critical social equity programs into their business models as we have done with our SEED program at Cresco Labs,” said Charlie Bachtell, Founder and CEO of Cresco Labs. “Companies should not wait for it to be mandated; they should help develop the regulatory frameworks that support communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.”

The National Cannabis Roundtable promotes common sense federal regulation, tax equality and financial services reform and supports changing federal law to acknowledge states’ rights to regulate and manage cannabis policy.  The membership of NCR represents every aspect of the cannabis supply chain. Our members operate in 26 states with legal cannabis programs, including the District of Columbia. We are growers, processors, retailers, wellness centers, investors, entrepreneurs, and publicly traded companies.  Learn more at www.nationalcannabisroundtable.org.


Lucid Green Co-Founder & President, Paul Botto, Featured in Green Entrepreneur

Green Entrepreneur

How To Build Trust And Transparency In The Cannabis Industry Right Now.

”In an industry like cannabis, it’s all about adapting and continuing to learn to establish trust.”

Cannabis is a complex and multidimensional product with a variety of chemical components, which offers a diverse range of products that can produce varied effects. The amount of choice can be overwhelming — and not just for novices, but even advanced consumers — which leaves brands to look for best practices to provide transparency to consumers.

Dispensaries strive to be as knowledgeable about their inventory as possibe, but it’s difficult for every budtender to know every new product hitting the store shelves. At the same time, customers come to stores with completely different knowledge levels — from the new user who needs a “ground-up” education, to experienced consumers who want information about a new product in a familiar category. Then, there are the more specific consumers seeking information that skews towards medical.

Brands try to do their part by staying compliant, and even go as far as to post lab results for each product batch on their website. But that information isn’t always easily accessible for consumers at the point of purchase.

Lack Of Trusted Educational Resources

To fully distance and distinguish themselves from the illicit market, brands and retailers must make accessible and comprehensive educational resources about the safety and safe use of the products. In the legal market, when cannabis brands merely assure their customers that products are safe and tested for consumption, they are only doing the bare minimum. That’s not good enough, so there needs to be a way for customers to obtain accurate information and navigate the often convoluted cannabis marketplace.

But how?

Due to legal restrictions, potential cannabis customers can’t simply go on Amazon or Yelp to search for product reviews. Since there isn’t a centralized database of specific cannabis information, the majority of dispensary budtenders are relying on personal or anecdotal experience that pull from a narrow range of experiences to inform crucial purchasing decisions. This points to an unmet demand for pro-consumer educational resources that gives buyers the information needed to purchase the products that specifically meet their needs.

Providing User-Friendly, Intuitive Resources

According to a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers, about 86 percent of Millennials use their mobile phone while shopping in-store. And while Millennials are the most likely to rely on their smartphone, one-third of all shoppers use their mobile devices to look up product information in stores.

Smartphones provide brands and dispensaries an easy and viable way to educate consumers — and the key lies in QR codes. QR codes have gained popularity, especially in Asia, in recent years because the technology is tangible and simple to use. Apple and Android device users can automatically scan QR codes with their camera, eliminating the need to download a separate app. With one swipe, a consumer can get specialized content, rewards or product information.

Currently, QR codes are used for virtually everything. Paypal uses QR codes as an efficient cashless payment system. Restaurant chains have included QR codes on menus to provide additional nutrition facts. Starbucks has used QR codes to unlock coupons and promotional deals during new coffee roast launches.

So, how can QR codes be utilized in the cannabis industry?

Incorporating QR codes as the vehicle for consumer education is one of the most intuitive, efficient and streamlined solutions to get product information to a consumer. In return, cannabis brands and businesses capture data on customers.

For example, a big question customers should ask is, ‘How is this cannabis product different from similar varieties?’ With a QR code on every cannabis package, customers can compare dosages, product effects, lab test results and consumer reviews with one quick scan from their smartphone. The code provides education, data transparency and a rating in seconds.

QR codes also give consumers a self-service solution. The canna-curious may feel intimidated or uncomfortable asking a budtender for help. Consumers with questions about a health or medical issue may not feel comfortable discussing personal details with a virtual stranger. At the same time, a more experienced consumer may have a quick question that they don’t want to stand in line to ask. QR codes provide a discreet and fast way for customers to find the product information they need.

No one likes to feel uninformed, and, in an intimidating retail environment like a dispensary, the more information readily available to consumers, the better. Taking concrete steps to boost trust and transparency in the cannabis industry by offering consumers educational resources will make them feel smarter and more empowered about purchases.

This article was originally featured in Green Entrepreneur on December 18, 2019