Here’s why I haven’t issued any cannabis tech recommendations yet – and the one exciting play that could make me change my mind…
I haven’t made any cannabis tech recommendations yet.
When it comes down to it, there haven’t been many tech breakthroughs yet.
When you consider supposedly new cannabis tech plays, ask yourself if what you’re looking at is actually cannabis tech.
For example, a company might come out with a special light that helps cannabis plants grow in a growhouse. That’s great, but if you can use that light to help grow tomatoes, is it really cannabis tech?
So far, this industry has helped advance existing technologies with applications outside of cannabis, but we’ve yet to see a cannabis-specific tech play that shows enough growth potential to catch my attention.
But that doesn’t mean we’ll never see a strong tech play in this sector.
In fact, there’s one interesting problem I’ve been keeping my eye on.
And whoever creates the technology that solves this problem will see massive profits…
A Driving Concern
For decades now, police forces have used breathalyzers – handheld devices that analyze the blood alcohol content (BAC) of suspected drunk drivers.
But there hasn’t been a similar way to test for cannabis use.
Numerous studies demonstrate that a cannabis high will impair a user’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle in much the same way as alcohol.
Not that long ago, police could use blood tests to determine marijuana use. There would be no need to prove that the driver was intoxicated – a positive test could lead to drug charges.
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So why not use blood tests now? Well, there are a couple of very good reasons.
First, blood testing is a cumbersome process. Unlike breathalyzers, which can be used to test BAC on the side of a road, blood samples must be drawn in a lab and then sent off for testing.
Second, cannabis is detectable in blood for days after consumption – long after any effects wear off – so it’s not an accurate measure of whether the driver was impaired.
Fortunately, a few companies are working on a solution.
A private, venture-backed company called Hound Labs recently announced that it has created the world’s first dual marijuana and alcohol breathalyzer.
Using this technology, police will be able to test for the presence of THC on a driver’s breath during routine traffic stops. This is a significant development, as THC will only linger on a user’s breath for a couple hours – the window in which driving skills would be impaired.
This technology is vital to the continued health of the cannabis industry, as it enforces accountability for responsible use.
The remaining problem is that no precedence has been set for what is a “safe” level of THC in relation to driving, but I expect standards to fall in place fairly quickly. Just as .08% is the legal limit for BAC, legislators will soon work with law enforcement officers to determine a solid limit for THC.
Hound Labs co-founder Mike Lynn says that law enforcement officers have been testing the company’s cannabis breathalyzer, and he hopes to begin selling the devices “later this year.”
But Hound Labs isn’t the only company with skin in the game.
Ultimately, it’s too early to say which company will win, and I still don’t think I’ll be issuing any official recommendations for tech plays in the near future.
But know that there will be a winner, and the Institute will be following developments in this technology very closely.
And when it does come time for me to issue a tech recommendation, make sure you’ll be there to get it.
Executive Director, National Institute for Cannabis Investors
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13 responses to “The One Tech Play We’re Following”
May 01 2019