Meeting regulatory compliance in Cannabis is a difficult job. This shouldn’t be the case. In more mature industries, meeting compliance is generally a commodity operation, easily outsourced or managed internally by trained and certified professionals. However, with U.S. federal legalization possibly years away, how does the CTO of a cannabis related business prepare? Does your executive roadmap include a task to prepare for U.S. legalization? Do you keep pushing that task down as the daily grind of keeping your operations running adds more immediate tasks to that list?
Maybe you need a partner. Maybe that partner is a company like Akerna.
If you study the cannabis technology landscape, there’s one big beast of a company you can’t help but miss. That beast is Akerna Corp (KERN). Akerna was built from the ground up to take on the challenges of meeting cannabis legal compliance. Founded by Ashesh Shah and Jessica Billingsley, the company has an impressive array of businesses under its umbrella to help make meeting regulatory compliance feel more like a commodity operation and less like a solution you need to patch together yourself.
As a CTO, what does Akerna really offer?
Akerna consolidates cannabis technology companies that connect to the global cannabis supply chain. They’ve built a transparent and accountable packaged good supply chain for consumers on a global scale.
This means that partnering with Akerna puts you in the strategic position to meet the needs of future banking, taxation, and federal compliance standards, as well as the standards at a state and local level, and internationally.
Does this mean I need to be a big operation to take advantage of Akerna’s offerings?
Akerna’s stable of product offerings is impressive. One of their most recent purchases is 365 Cannabis, a cannabis ERP (enterprise resource planning) platform that manages to bring traditional supply chain capabilities with built-in support for cannabis specific operations. It’s also built on top of Microsoft Dynamics, giving it the added benefit of being a product many people in the enterprise space are familiar with. As a CTO, considerations of your team is always important. Will the product work well with my organization’s culture, their capabilities, and will it integrate with existing systems?
It looks like Akerna answers these questions by offering a wide array of various products. From their website, here’s a breakdown of what those offerings look like:
From the MJ Freeway Product Page
With enterprise-grade operational software, technology-automated compliance safeguards for track–and–trace throughout the entire supply chain, and access to a highly experienced consulting and support team at MJ Freeway, cannabis operators have the tools to maximize their return on investment (ROI) today and plan for growth tomorrow.
MJ Freeway invented seed–to–sale software in 2010. For more than a decade, they have continued to innovate and develop software solutions specifically designed for the cannabis industry. At the center of their service offering is MJ Platform, the industry’s first cannabis-specific ERP solution. With world-class accounting integrations and a robust API partner ecosystem, MJ Platform enables cannabis businesses to manage, scale, and optimize more competitive operations across the entire legal cannabis supply chain.
Fully integrated into MJ Platform is MJ Analytics, a powerful business intelligence tool developed in partnership with Domo and Snowflake. Using visual dashboards to access and present real-time data, analytics, and business intelligence relating, operators can make more informed decisions about running their business.
From the Viridian Sciences Product Page
Viridian Sciences provides the most advanced seed-to-sale technology available with world-class integrated financial cost and project tracking.
Their experience allows them to deliver a comprehensive Cannabis software solution designed to help your business simplify and optimize every aspect of your process with the flexibility to scale to multiple locations, multiple companies, and multiple states.
Regardless of what phase your business is currently in, Viridian Sciences Cannabis Software Solution has been designed to help simplify your path to future growth with cannabis growing, manufacturing, distribution, and financial capability that assists in your compliance reporting. Backed with decades of experience working within industrial and business processes, complex taxation, and government regulations, Viridian Sciences is leading the way with the best integrated, cloud business management software available for the Cannabis industry.
From the Ample Organics Product Page
The platform makes compliance easy by tracking individual plants from seed to consumer and reporting every detail of the growth, production, and sales processes.
The majority of Canadian cannabis license applicants use Ample Organics in their license application submission, strengthening Canadian seed-to-sale market share and acting as a gateway to other products and services Ample Organics offers.
From the Trellis Product Page
Trellis software was developed inside of a cultivation facility just outside of Toronto when cultivators identified a need for tools to better manage their operations. Built through careful observation of the cultivation process and the combination previous inventory management experience, our software is designed to be an intuitive, operator-friendly solution.
Leaf Data Systems
From the Leaf Data Systems Product Page
Using a closed-loop platform and advanced tagging technology, with Leaf Data Systems, government clients can not only track-and-trace products; they can have a deeper level of transparency and accountability.
Leaf Data Systems is deployed in Pennsylvania, and Washington state. As of 2020, the second generation of Leaf Data Systems is the state regulatory system of Utah.
Last Call Analytics
From the Last Call Analytics Product Page
The platform aggregates up-to-the-minute sales information from every registered retailer on each unique SKU, offering producers intelligent data to optimize demand forecasts.
From the Solo Sciences Product Page
solo sciences’ innovative, mobile-first approach to anti-counterfeiting builds loyalty with consumers while showcasing members’ products. Our patented tech platform directly links a proprietary mark (the solo*CODE™, to uniquely fingerprint every individual package) which provides real-time data for retailers, distributors, creators, and producers.
By scanning a solo*CODE with our free mobile app, the consumer gains a plethora of benefits, including detailed product information and action-driven rewards. This secure, closed-loop authentication system surpasses legacy authentication tools, and builds consumer confidence while establishing trust.¬
From the Alerna Connect Product Page
Akerna Connect (formerly Guru Systems) launched in 2017 with the purpose of providing dispensaries and brands with a suite of marketing and ecommerce tools that integrate in real-time with seed to sale platforms to form a comprehensive technology strategy. Today Akerna Connect provides online ordering, text message marketing, loyalty programs, mobile apps, landing pages, managed marketing services, and more. All modules are cloud based and mobile friendly.
From the 365 Cannabis Product Page
365 Cannabis delivers an ERP solution with functionality specifically tailored to the challenges and requirements of the cannabis industry. Combining traditional supply chain management capabilities with cannabis-specific functionality, 365 Cannabis offers a complete cannabis business management solution. The module-based system allows cannabis businesses to use the system in its entirety or consume modules individually with the option to add more as they scale. 365 Cannabis is the complete cannabis ERP software of choice.
The Roadmap to Compliance
Another consideration as a CTO is your operation’s roadmap to compliance. You likely have a plan to meet local and state regulations, but do you have a plan for when U.S. makes cannabis legal? Do you have a plan for interstate commerce? Do you have a plan for selling internationally? It’s not unusually if you don’t. Many operators in the cannabis space are still small and focused on their local markets. If you can keep your own dispensary stocked, as well as your local partner dispensaries, you’re doing well. Many CTOs are focused on just getting their own operations down and focused on heads-down, keep-the-lights-on activities. However, this is a part of your executive duties that must eventually be addressed. And it looks like Akerna is a good company to meet those needs.
Jessica Billingsley is the CEO of Akerna. She created MJ Freeway, the first seed-to-sale tracking software.
From the MJ Freeway website:
It all started in 2010, in a small cannabis dispensary and cultivation facility in Colorado. Jessica understood the vision of the industry and invested in one of the first 10 dispensaries licensed in Colorado. With a background in tech, Jessica helped the dispensary make the most important decision in their business, what technology they would use to run their business. After research, Jessica soon realized no one was creating software for the specific needs of the cannabis industry. Back then, no one served our industry. Cannabis was considered risky and its future was uncertain. But Jessica saw things differently. She saw an industry with good intentions and lots of possibility.
Jessica teamed up with Amy, a tech and software power player. Together, Jessica and Amy created the first software built specifically for cannabis businesses. MJ Freeway Business Solutions was the very first seed-to- sale tracking for the industry. We set the standard. Since then, we’ve been first to market with every single software feature we’ve offered. And in November 2016, we released the first ever generation 2 cannabis software.
Built on a foundation of meeting regulation and compliance, it does look like Akerna is the right partner for discussions around your regulatory roadmap.
Points to consider when discussing Akerna with your partners
- Akerna has more than 80 integrated products
- Akerna generated more than 4.9 million in revenue during the second quarter of 2021
- Akerna acquired Cannabis 365, a product built on top of Microsoft’s Dynamics platform
- Akerna acquired Viridian Sciences making them an SAP compliant Business One offering
- They offer a full business accounting solution
- Akerna is the answer to a patchwork of integrated systems that require to be customized and managed to meet customer needs
As a CTO or technology leader in a cannabis related business, it doesn’t make sense to take on custom application development to meet cannabis regulatory requirements. Most cannabis related business CTOs are too busy focused on keeping the company running. Partnering with a business like Akerna, a company whose focus is on meeting regulatory requirements through the acquisition of software solutions that meet those needs, is the ideal way to check that future regulatory roadmap task off your list.