The cloud software giant’s latest partnership adds to its suite of cannabis-compliance tools the ability to monitor plants, keeping them separate from the illicit market and accountable to growers and buyers.
Aiming to become a one-stop shop for cannabis regulation software, Accela today announced that it's offering a track-and-trace tool, developed by Los Angeles-based cannabis software company Kind, for state governments to monitor legally grown plants from seed to sale.
Kind’s cloud-based platform uses artificial intelligence, blockchain and RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to track cannabis plants in granular detail, from germination to vegetation to treatment, distribution and sale. It’s available by itself or in Accela’s ever-expanding suite of cannabis-regulation tools.
Greg Felix, vice president of Accela’s Cannabis Strategic Business Unit, said Kind’s platform is an answer to the incursion of the illicit market on legal grows, as well as a lack of communication between state and local agencies about which commercial operations have been properly vetted and inspected. He said RFID tags give Accela information about every movement of each plant, discouraging handlers from stealing plants to sell on the illicit market, or vice versa, inserting illegally grown plants into the legal market. And if there’s a recall, the software can identify which oils, cookies or other products came from which plants.
“Anybody can get a plastic bag with a label on it. How do you know that that truly is from the legal market? This is what our track-and-trace solution is allowing us to do,” he said. “When a plant is moving from one location to the next with a dispensary, we know what that plant should weigh, so if somebody is clipping off bits of flower to divert it to the illicit market, the artificial intelligence will trigger that and say there’s something wrong here. Or if some amount should have been recorded as X and it’s being recorded as Y, we will know that. That information will go up to the state, and what it does is severely reduces the ability of a human … to inject their ill intent into the supply chain.”
Felix described the landscape of cannabis regulation software as disjointed and siloed, as different states have rolled out different regulations, particularly for medical versus recreational use. He said technology and software design have advanced in the past few years, and Accela saw an opportunity to keep state and local governments up to speed and on the same page.
“Think about a local business that was maybe selling cannabis to underage kids, and (local authorities) shut that place down,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice for the state to know that sooner rather than three months later? It’s that kind of thing that we’re solving, that today is hit-and-miss in the market.”
Kind CEO David Dinenberg said commercial customers are using his company’s software in 90 percent of states that have legalized marijuana, and its only state government contract so far has been with Rhode Island. But with Accela’s reputation, infrastructure and knowledge of procurement, he said the company could play a role in simplifying cannabis-regulation compliance for all concerned.
“A lot of the outflow between a business and the government from a reporting standpoint is a manual process, and we are looking to … make that automated,” he said. “The ability to have it all in one solution — for the government to get a regulatory environment complete and quick — is something we’re trying to offer the market now.”
Accela’s partnership with Kind is only its latest of several announcements on the cannabis regulation front. Adding to its in-house cannabis licensing system that won major contracts in the city of Denver, the state of California and elsewhere, Accela announced in June a hemp licensing tool as well as a partnership with cloudPWR to work on cannabis patient data privacy.
Felix said other software vendors offer track-and-trace systems, but he singled out Kind for its use of AI and blockchain, as well as its potential to future-proof Accela’s cannabis suite. He said many track-and-trace vendors aren’t prepared to accommodate impending questions around home growing, nor hemp, which is off the federal list of Schedule 1 substances and open for interstate commerce, meaning it has to be tracked across different jurisdictions and laws.