Would Legalising Cannabis Fuel a Tech Revolution?

New technologies have the power to take the cannabis industry to a whole new level

They are changing everything; from how the product is grown, to how it is manufactured, purchased, delivered, customised—and, of course, consumed.

Innovations from nano-encapsulation technology which make CBD isolates fully water ‘soluble’ leading to quality CBD infused drinks, whilst customised consumption and changes to e-commerce models are playing a vital role in connecting consumers with the right brands and products.

From a cultivation perspective, technology is being used to sequence cannabis DNA, extract, purify and test compounds and help develop products. Countries such as Israel, The Netherlands, USA and Canada are leading the way in technological innovations in cannabis, having had a flurry of investment in projects, including from Governments. Despite the UK being home to the world’s single largest legal cannabis cultivation site, 18 hectares at British Sugar’s Wissington facility, increasing numbers of THC licences being granted by the Home Office and a flurry of brands entering the market, support for cannabis tech innovators remains muted.

As a world leader in technological innovation, the legalisation of cannabis and creation of an independent industry would allow the UK to build on strong tech foundations and use its expertise to accelerate research and development in cannabis. Not only would this catapult the UK to the front of the cannatech race, it would also further the UK’s position in other technological spheres.

For example, agri-tech. Indoor farming is currently a relatively nascent industry, but one which has huge potential to open the possibility of food self-sufficiency. Cannabis is the ideal crop to test new agri-tech methods, meaning legalisation would allow the UK to pioneer new indoor farming methods through cannabis. This can ensure successful food production in the future. Another example is energy efficiency. Cannabis cultivation is a very expensive, energy consuming business, so research into how to bring costs down would allow to the UK to pioneer new energy-efficient technologies.

This overview of promising technologies demonstrates the huge potential of science and technology to generate economic growth, job opportunities and life changing applications to address some of the challenges facing the cannabis industry. The UK has an opportunity to take a lead on the global
cannatech race and unlock the value it can bring to the economy and society. We need a bold mindset to create a regulatory landscape that supports innovation within the cannabis industry rather than holding it back, so its full potential can be reached.

About the Author

Mike Barnes is Consultant Neurologist and Co-Founder of Maple Tree Consultancy.