Whatever it is we currently do to make our living in the cannabis industry will soon be altered for better and worse by artificial intelligence.
Robots grow great reefer. Machines personalize marijuana purchases. AI apps author bud blogs (although not this one!). The list goes on.
As we in the cannabis industry – among virtually every other – develop new workflows to adapt to productivity enhancements, unforeseen hiccups, and other digital discoveries powered by artificial intelligence, we should consider what inspired us to join this ascending area of business in the first place.
For many, including yours truly, a love of the plant and its power to reframe the human mind at any given point is very high on the list. Five thousand or so years of anecdotal observation combined with whatever nascent peer-reviewed research our species has allowed for to date indicates that cannabis consumption changes how we think.
It is this very property of the plant that can help humanity stay one step ahead of those bot-barbarians at the gate. This does not mean that we should all break out in smoke circle formations to suppress any adversarial AI activity that comes our way. Rather, we should commit to legal, professionalized and internationally networked research of a plant that’s social, medicinal and philosophical applications remain undiscovered due to barriers that are regrettably all too human.
Algorithms alone won’t solve what are primarily political problems that restrict research of a plant legally deemed as medicine in U.S. 38 states. While the 2018 Farm Bill includes major breakthroughs in permitting federal research on CBD and Hemp, getting a green light from the U.S. Federal Drug Administration to study parts of the plant that gets you high requires oversight from the Drug Enforcement Administration. Curiously, the scant amount of THC-carrying cannabis approved for medical research in the United States is grown in Mississippi.
So, while the White House rushes to convene titans of tech industries to address existential AI angst provoked by the popularity of ChatGPT, simple solutions to create more functional federal guidelines for cannabis research and commercialization at large fall victim to de-prioritization from both Congress and the Biden Administration.
The current and future generations of free thinking stakeholders in the cannabis industry need to be more creative, collective and focused when addressing federal barriers to bud normalization. While instituting SAFE Banking to enable federal banks to invest in the industry and reforming the 280e Tax Code to allow state-licensed cannabis companies to write off their investments are necessary in order for the industry to flourish, those changes alone are far from sufficient.
Decades ago, the federal government made a series of investments through a collection of agencies that created the Internet, which for better and worse powers how most individuals on the planet live their lives today. The biggest impact our elected leaders and lawmakers can have on the cannabis industry today is to recognize the therapeutic, commercial, and societal effects of a de-stigmatized plant.
A comparatively miniscule investment of funding towards basic research and development in cannabis combined with banking and tax reform will unlock trillions of dollars in private capital awaiting permission to seed what – along with AI, genomics and environmental sustainability – is poised to be a core U.S. industry in the 21st century.
A bot will not rewrite current cannabis laws that will elevate our industry the same way the 1996 Telecommunications Act created today’s wired world. Human will and the conviction of voters to press politicians to legitimize, commercialize and scientifically professionalize the plant is what is required today.
Many among us know in our bones that cannabis consumption inspires free thinking. It is our responsibility as users and/or industry stakeholders to liberate the plant from existing human impediments.
There is no reason for humanity to face this Brave New World without a better relationship with bud.