These five apps ought to be on the radar of dispensaries, e-juice retailers, and smoke shops around the country. Cannabis retailers who want to be on the cutting edge of an increasingly lucrative industry can use them to sell to and better understand their consumers. They're also handy tools for both educating buyers and conducting in-house research on the latest strains, products, and market-related news. 

Legal cannabis is currently a $6 billion industry in the U.S. (Bloomberg News) and analysts expect it to be worth $50 billion by 2026. Meanwhile, consumers are now spending 90% of their mobile time using apps (Yahoo’s Flurry Analytics), making an undeniable case for downloading one of several recently launched cannabis apps.

“As cannabis becomes more accepted as a legitimate industry we're seeing a significant investment in the ancillary tech businesses that support it. For many entrepreneurs, having access to technology that might help them navigate the often complex legal and regulatory landscape of cannabis - or even simplify the supply chain process - is crucial to the success of their business.” – Rich DiGregorio, NisonCo.

The Ultimate B2B Cannabis App

Just over a year old, LeafLink, which was created by 26-year old Silicon Valley startup vet Ryan Smith, was released onto the market fully developed and ready for use. The app provides a platform for orders between brands and retailers, plus tools for B2B relationship management, like inventory, tracking, and correspondence.

Vendors can list and sell products to dispensaries and, in turn, get access to a personalized customer history/order portal. LeafLink boasts listings for more than 1000 dispensaries and I-502 retail stores. And, the app is free for retailers.

“You may be a retail guru, but this is a highly regulated industry and it’s changing sometimes weekly so it’s really difficult to keep up with the state and local requirements for cannabis businesses.” – John Morgan, Simplifya

The Compliance App

As its legalization spreads across the US, cannabis retailers can’t take for granted the stringent and complex regulations particular to their state, city, even neighborhood.

According to John Morgan, SVP of Client Engagement at Simplifya, a compliance app launched in late 2016 with its own in-house counsel, provides legally vetted regulatory audits and audit management software to companies in Colorado and, later on in 2017, Los Angeles and New Mexico.

“With cannabis businesses, you are really in the compliance business and if you are doing that properly, then you get to sell marijuana in a retail setting or a wholesale setting.” – John Morgan
According to Morgan, the app solves the problems that one of the app’s founders, Vicente Sederburg, a leading American marijuana law firm, discovered after many an audit. “One, people don’t know what the regulations are, and two, when they have an expert come in and tell them what the problems are, nothing is getting fixed.”

In response, Simplifya “put compliance into the hands of the business owner so that they can take a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach. We take these complex state and local regulations and we condense them into simple yes or no questions.”

The app is currently available for tablets, with a phone app on the way. Retailers enter basic information, including location and licenses, and audits are generated. The app also provides tools for business owners to assign remediation tasks to employees who can log in and demonstrate that they’ve resolved the issue, streamlining the compliance communication process.  

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The Medical Marijuana App

PotBotics, a marijuana robotics company, has launched two apps: PotBot and PotBot MD. PotBot is a virtual “budtender” that offers personalized medical marijuana recommendations to users who can also employ the app’s facial and vocal recognition technology and connect virtually with doctors.

For more thorough medical care, PotBot MD can be used to schedule appointments, access medical records, and keep up with latest medical marijuana research. PotBot may be particularly useful to dispensary retailers, who can sign on to be featured in the directory and whose strains receive user reviews. Retailers using the app are also provided with patient demographics and buying habits.

The Comprehensive Cannabis Apps

Both MassRoots, the largest and only publicly traded cannabis-specific social media platform in the U.S., and Leafly, a wildly popular cannabis app with over 12 million visits to its site per month and 118,000 app downloads per month, provide exhaustive resources for retailers and consumers alike.

MassRoots educates its user on how to use which strains and products and features a pantry of “concentrates, edibles, beverages, tinctures, and topicals,” each of which is classified by plant type, flavor, effects, conditions it treats, and manufacturer. Leafly provides dispensary listings and dispensary and product reviews, plus additional advertising opportunities for brand marketing and management.   

The Takeaway

Because cannabis is still federally illegal, large companies have shied away from the industry’s recent expansion, allowing more room for smaller startups to grow. Until the current prohibition has been be lifted (and it’s only a matter of time), marketers in every field should pay close attention.

For more Insider coverage on why cannabis and its requisite accessories are -- or soon will be -- vital to every retailer, read “Cannabiz – The Business of Weed and How it Impacts All Retailers,” as well as our story on the female marijuana entrepreneurs at the helm of the industry: “The High-End High – The Future (of Cannabis) is Female.”

Article by Katie Schorr.