As the former Director of Technical Operations for one of the largest cannabis growers in California, I wanted to share how technology plays a key role in the cultivation, processing and protecting this highly regulated crop. The focus of this month’s column is technology as applied to the ever growing – pun intended – cannabis market.
Before I begin my technology discussion, it will be beneficial to have an overview of the laws as outlined by the California Department of Cannabis Control. California has a long history of progressive cannabis policy. We were the first state in the nation to legalize cannabis for medicinal use (1996) and the fifth to legalize for adult use (2016). California also provides financial support and technical assistance to local governments that are pioneering cannabis programs rooted in equity and inclusion.
The Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) merges the work of three different state programs into one state department. DCC will license, inspect and regulate all cannabis activity in California.
This is a critical first step toward simplifying California’s approach to regulating cannabis. This is done in three different ways: statutes, regulations and ordinances.
Statutes are laws written and passed by the state legislature and signed into law by the Governor. They apply to the whole state and create a basic structure and rules that everyone must follow.
Regulations are rules created by a state agency that interpret the statute and make it more specific. Like statutes, regulations also apply to the whole state. DCC creates regulations that apply to cannabis businesses.
Ordinances are rules created by cities and counties to set even more specific rules for the local community. They set the time, place and manner a business can operate, or a resident can take certain actions. An ordinance only applies in the city or county that created it. Ordinances can be more specific than regulations or statutes, but they cannot work against them. Check with your city and county to find out if they have passed any ordinances for cannabis.
Cannabis is one of the most highly regulated crops if not the most highly regulated crop in history. Technology makes this possible and it also is costly to implement, manage and maintain. This ain’t your grandad’s flower business anymore.
Now that you understand the primary driver for the utilization of technology, let’s take a look at what technology we are talking about. The technology is incorporated into the three following areas of a cannabis farm: security, operations and production.
Security:a very important aspect and involves the use of cameras, access control, and premise/perimeter physical security. Regulations require that you be able to clearly identify an individual within 20 feet of any cannabis product at any time of day and the images be recorded and stored for 90 days. All doors that provide ingress/egress must be locked and only entered by authorized personal or individuals that have been vetted, registered and are accompanied at all times. All egress only (emergency exits) must remain locked and monitored. The movement of individuals and vehicle traffic is also needed, and all individuals must wear approved ID credentials that can serve as electronic keys to doors and gates.
Operations: smooth workflow is critical to any business and technology is a key component for insuring an efficient and smooth workflow. An integrated VOIP (Voice over IP) Phone system that allows you to call from your desk or mobile phone is very beneficial. Two-way radio either dedicated or in the form of a Smart Phone App is a wonderful tool. GPS tracking of assets, RFID access tags, Digital Signage, Smart Time Clocks, Temperature sensing cameras, Facial recognition and video monitoring with notification of sensitive areas.
Production: this is where the rubber meets the road. When you are growing a crop, it is all about time and quality. How many harvest cycles can you obtain in a given period of time and how do you maintain the quality the customers are demanding? Optimization is the goal, and to do this you must address all the factors impacting the growing of the crop. From seedlings to mature plants, you have to control the environment, the movement, the harvesting, the processing and finally delivery of the finished goods. This segment is technology intensive because of all the moving parts and requires the monitoring and management of large amounts of data. Everything from weather, interior temperature, humidity, soil condition, water quality, light, shade, nutrients, pests, fungus, disease, etc. This is all accomplished with integrated, automated horticulture control systems and plant curing and processing equipment.
So, as you can see, growing cannabis is not easy and technology is very much a part of this segment of the agriculture market as it is a part of our daily lives.
If you have a question about technology, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just give me a call at (805) 684-3414. I love talking tek.