Here’s what seed-to-sale means, and how the cannabis industry is using tech to achieve it

August 21, 2015

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Colorado’s cannabis industry is heavily regulated, to say the least. Amongst the myriad of regulations that the industry must adhere to, complying with the state’s seed-to-sale laws are among the most difficult.

Seed-to-sale laws require cannabis manufacturers and dispensaries to keep detailed records of their products — and we’re talking detailed. If you’re growing cannabis commercially and you move a plant from one room to another, you are required to track that. If some of those plants are for medicinal use and others for recreational use, you are required to harvest them in seperate rooms — and track that too. The list goes on. Now, imagine doing that in a grow operation with over 500 plants being almost constantly moved around. It’s a cumbersome and time consuming responsibility for the industry, and there’s really no failsafe way to do it. That’s where FlowHub comes in.

“We walk people through the process of growing weed,” Kyle Sherman Co-Founder and CEO at FlowHub said. “If you use our platform, and do everything in order, you’ll stay compliant and you can just focus on growing weed. It’s super easy to use.”

FlowHub, which is still in private beta, created an operational workflow system for the cannabis industry. In essence, their system allows manufacturers to track just about every aspect of a marijuana plant's growth, while staying compliant with the state’s seed-to-sale laws. Their system is not unlike what you’d expect to see in a large warehouse — only it was custom designed to work for the marijuana industry, with both compliance and marijuana production in mind.

The system uses wireless devices they call ‘nugs’ that are powered by iPhones. The nug works by scanning a barcode attached to every plant (another legal requirement set by the state). When a plant is moved in a facility, or goes from one stage of vegetation to another, users scan the barcode and choose from a series of possible options on the nug to describe what they will be doing with the plant. All that data is then beamed into a central database, and shown to managers in a detailed, web-based user interface in real time.

“In this industry, before we came along, most business owners were doing this manually. People were literally writing this stuff down with pen and paper,” Sherman said. “We saw a giant opportunity to take a very complex process and make it incredibly simple.”

FlowHub’s offices look out over the 16th Street Mall and very much look the part of a tech startup. People sit at laptops in a sparsely decorated room. Floor-to-ceiling windows are covered in technical jargon written in erasable marker. A large conference table sits covered with product demos and empty marijuana containers. A bong rests discreetly in the corner.

Like many of those working in Cannabis tech, the founders of FlowHub moved to Colorado to work in the cannabis industry. Before relocating to Denver, Sherman was in Los Angeles working at an advertising company he co-founded. His partner Chase Wiseman was doing finance work in Chicago.

The company has big plans to change the way the entire industry operates. Their current system is designed with growers in mind, but they are building it out to include tracking and a point of sale system for dispensaries. When completed later this year, FlowHub’s system will follow a marijuana plant for its entire life, from the time it is a seed until it's sold to a consumer.

By integrating things like a point-of-sale system, they hope it will be easier for growers and dispensaries to keep track of their product. 

 

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