Innovation will Drive the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis market is constantly growing and is a business opportunity in many fields. israel is at the center of the business growth of the medical cannabis market due to its developed agricultural ecosystem, growth technologies, research and development, pharma and government policy. the government of israel has increased the number of physicians licensed to prescribe medical cannabis, leading directly to an increase in the number of patients, an increase in demand for medical cannabis, and an increase in the local market. in addition, in january 2019, the government approved exports of israeli-grown medical cannabis to the legal market.

Cannabis legalization is spreading worldwide and with it come new rules and oversight requirements directed by the regulatory bodies for the benefit and safety of consumers and patients. the markets are already saturated with new ventures and established companies seeking to reap the rewards of this up and coming industry, which promises significant growth over the coming years. the global cannabis market is expected to reach $135b by 2025, growing at an astounding 39% cagr  (compound annual growth rate (source: grand view research report).

With increasing competition, the successful companies will be those able to leverage significant unique differentiation characteristics, setting apart their products, services and brands from the rest of the field. to succeed, companies will have to invest in innovation, in order to drive new products and service development. therefore, as the industry matures over the coming years, we will witness the roll-out of substantial innovations, related to agricultural technologies and practices, life sciences, medical technology, data analytics, ecommerce and more.

Until legalization, the cannabis plant was mostly cultivated illegally and non-professionally. the today’s and tomorrow’s cannabis growers will need to adopt the latest 21st century agricultural methods and practices to ensure they are able to meet market demands, both in terms of quantity and quality, on a consistent and profitable basis. this will involve, for example, using hybrid seeds derived from the breeding of genetically stable cannabis strains, or using gene editing in order to get better strains, applying precision and smart farming methods to ensure optimal growth and harvesting, and adopting automated grading and sorting solutions to guarantee that flowers are channelled in the right directions for best use and maximum profit.

When we examine the ecosystem in israel, we can see a great deal of technological progress in the research conducted in the agri-tech field. more and more companies that have made a breakthrough in the agri-tech field are now examining the cannabis market as a potential new market in which to apply their technology.

For example,  the fact is that the cannabis industry is dependent on the ability of licensed growers to deliver uniform high-quality cannabis. the main problem nowadays is the absence of uniform and improved cannabis genetics, developed and adapted for intensive cultivation in greenhouses, and the reliance of growers on plant cuttings instead of seeds.  israel is well known for its seed companies and intensive know-how, and we can find some great minds working on these issues with the aim of reaching a breakthrough breeding technology in a short period, and with a high degree of certainty, to develop new, stable and enhanced cannabis varieties.

The last golden age for medical cannabis research was during the second half of the 19th century, but much remains unknown. therefore, today’s scientists and doctors have a lot to discover about the therapeutic advantages and benefits of cannabis. first and foremost, they need to advance our understanding of the correlation between the hundreds of compounds found in cannabis and specific health indications. this will likely take decades to decipher. as the years go by, we surely will benefit from cannabis medical innovations related to smart delivery systems, bio-availability and unique formulations, which are more likely to be marketed as dietary supplements due to reduced regulatory compliance requirements.

The regulators and the public in general  broadly demand that the newly-legalized cannabis industry be safe and accountable. consequently, the cannabis supply chain will continue adopting new information technology solutions, such as seed-to-sale software, to meet back-end compliance and reporting requirements. good agriculture practice (gap) and good manufacturing practices (gmp) will become common practice. these ensure that products are consistently grown, produced and controlled according to quality standards, to minimize the risks involved in production that cannot be eliminated through testing the final product. cannabis companies will no longer be able to rely solely on outside testing by certified laboratories. as a result, in-house testing for quality assurance and risk mitigation will be the norm.

Cannabis innovation will also be made possible by the accumulation and analysis of vast amounts of data. therefore, advanced mathematical and statistical tools will be applied by data (bioinformatics) scientists to help the cannabis industry, for example, to meet compliance requirements, refine product development in order to maximize safety and efficacy, and to anticipate market supply and demand patterns. furthermore, big data should enable the personalization of medicinal cannabis treatment. for this to happen, tools to collect data will have to be deployed across the supply chain, especially at the retail points and in collaboration with consumers and patients alike.

In conclusion, the winners will be forward-thinking companies who understand that the future of the industry rests in new product and service development marketed under trusted brands. companies based in countries which are cannabis-research friendly with supporting eco-systems across the private, public and academic centers such as israel, have a meaningful advantage over those operating in uncertain regulatory environments.  like all rising industries, there are many companies claiming to be the next big thing in the cannabis industry. just a few of these will have a real impact, but those that do succeed will forever change the cannabis industry for the benefit and the well-being of patients worldwide.

source: grand view research report

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