Updated: Jul 27
With the advent of the 4th industrial revolution, many wonder how artificial intelligence will finally shape how we do business and science.
As often happens with revolutions, people instinctively know things must be fundamentally changed to progress. However, how things will look after that change remains a mystery, even for those who announce said revolution.
So, it is up to us to discover how the new tools available will be used in our industries. Today we will discover how artificial intelligence is shaping the world of cannabis and hemp products and the possibilities it opens in terms of doing business and developing new uses for this marvelous plant. So let's dig into it.
AI could help widen retail margins
Contrary to what most people think, running a dispensary or cannabis boutique can take a while to turn a profit. Yes, it is a relatively profitable line of work, but setting up shop is something not many people can afford without going neck-deep into debt. Obtaining the appropriate legal licenses and paying up annual fees, acquiring real estate, doing renovations, purchasing equipment, negotiating with suppliers, and ensuring you hire and train your staff… You get the picture.
One of the advantages AI brings to the table is that it can help automate certain processes, reducing the need for retail staff. Don't get me wrong, having a trained budtender will always be necessary in order to guide your visitors through their customer journeys.
We don't see our stores furnished with a row of giant touch screens, eliminating the need for human interactions any time soon. Leave that to your corner McDonald's. However, our customers have become a lot more tech-savvy and discerning with time, and most of them Google their stuff before coming to us. So, allowing them to use a chatbot explicitly programmed to understand our products and present them to customers as they ask specific questions can be a time saver for all parties involved.
Some users love to have the option to ask questions privately before having the confidence to trust us with their fears and hopes. So AI will certainly allow them to soften the apprehension of voicing their initial concerns.
More discerning audiences will also appreciate the possibility of having an AI navigate through a catalog of options and narrow down the best options for their specific needs before talking to an experienced budtender.
This all eases the need for having to have a fully staffed dispensary all day long. Again, nothing can replace an expertly trained and experienced budtender. But the staff/customer ratio will definitely see an impact if (or when) AI is adopted, widening the revenue margins and making this industry a lot more attractive for investors.
AI drives research forward
Artificial intelligence is being used in many industries today as a potent tool to help find more efficient products and manufacturing methods. The cannabis industry could not pass up the opportunity to give AI a try.
The genetic makeup of cannabis plants has been mapped extensively during the last decade. Scientists have discovered hundreds of terpenes and cannabinoids that work together, creating a synergic relationship that impacts the plant's effects when interacting with our endocannabinoid systems.
However, given the complexity and relatively unknown nature of most of these components, the development of new products has not gone as fast as we would like.
Fortunately, some companies in Israel started to use AI to select plant genetic markers and suggest the best next breed based on their characteristics.
The result was the development of at least six new medical-grade varieties that contain more than 22% THC and specific terpenes that are known to have their uses in the wellness industry. The industry will likely continue using AI to develop advanced varieties with unique terpenes that expand the use of cannabinoids for a broader range of applications.
AI will help predict cannabis effects
Right now, it is impossible, or unbelievably irresponsible, to prescribe cannabis as a cure for any mental condition. Apart from the obvious legal implications, there are many things we don't understand about cannabis. For example, everybody responds differently to these products. Some won't feel a change, while others will report undesirable side effects.
However, artificial intelligence might be able to change all this in the near future. When exploring machine learning methods, researchers discovered that AI was able to predict how symptoms would change in mental health patients.
The AI could make fairly solid predictions of how some symptoms would change with cannabis use. The study showed that when patients reported symptoms and evaluated their severity, the AI could accurately predict how these would change after cannabis use.
This, of course, is not an endorsement of AI-based apps of this kind. However, it is impossible to ignore the growing body of literature that indicates that AI will play a role in how doctors and health experts view the use of cannabinoids for treating patients, especially if they have strong indications that it might be of help in some instances.
The Fourth Revolution is approaching (although some say it is already here). We must be prepared to adopt one of its most powerful tools or at least be prepared for when artificial intelligence is more widely adopted.
In the meantime, we know we can trust expert budtenders with decades of experience in the industry when searching for quality products that cater to our specific needs. So visit our store in Austin, or contact us if you have any questions about our premium products.