但是，随着大麻产业在越来越多的州合法化，业内的技术开始飞速发展。从生产设备到大麻蒸馏器，再到利用提取物四氢大麻酚制造的产品，处处可见创新的影子。贾斯汀•哈特菲尔德是大麻医用网站Weedmaps.com的首席执行官，也是专注于大麻产业的私募股权集团Emerald Ocean Capital的创始人。他表示，大麻的生产和软件领域依然存在巨大的市场等待发掘。
阿拉维将RXNB的技术授权给了CEN Biotech，它是底特律市外的公开上市公司Creative Edge Nutrition的分公司。这家公司斥资1,200美元，在加拿大的安大略湖兴建了生产工厂，同时计划今年在加拿大种植、销售130万磅医用大麻。Creative Edge Nutrition是一家在美国销售营养补品和能量饮料的公司，公司首席执行官比尔•查班说：“一切完全由电脑控制，不需要哪个扎着马尾辫、穿着牛仔裤的家伙在周围巡视。”
Matthew Cohen wants his startup TRiQ to be the Toyota of marijuana manufacturing. The company, which opened its doors in Ukiah, Cal. in 2013, has a long way to go. But already, TRiQ is partnering with software and manufacturing companies outside the cannabis industry in an attempt to revamp the way marijuana is being produced. "Toyota is one of our idols," Cohen says. "How they took car manufacturing systems and totally reinvented it -- that's similar to what we are trying to do for cannabis now."
Meanwhile, up north, just outside of Detroit, Sam Alawieh, CEO and founder of the pharmaceutical company RXNB, has developed closed-door climate bay technology to replicate the exact environment of 50 different strains of marijuana in a controlled and sterile manufacturing environment. Alawieh, whose background is in pharmacology, has 32 patents pending on marijuana-related technologies. "People have been focused on access," he says. "But the second-wave evolution is about predictability and accountability."
The legal marijuana market in the U.S. is expected to grow 64% in 2014 to $2.34 billion, according to ArcView Group, a cannabis industry-focused investment group. In five years, ArcView estimates that figure will reach $10.2 billion. Recognizing marijuana's growing market potential, companies big and small are scrambling to get ideas patented. But until the federal government -- which ironically has its own health patent on marijuana -- changes its classification from a Schedule 1 drug, many investors and businesses are loath to risk involvement in the market.
Still, technology is exploding in the marijuana industry as a growing number of states move toward legalization, with innovations ranging from production equipment to vaporizers to products created with THC extracts. In the areas of manufacturing and software, there's a tremendous market to be tapped, says Justin Hartfield, CEO of Weedmaps.com and founder of the private equity group Emerald Ocean Capital, which focuses on the cannabis industry.
Realizing the need to streamline and improve the production process, companies are trying to figure out how to grow, harvest, and process marijuana in the most efficient, controlled, and effective way possible. TRiQ has a patent out on a technology to dry marijuana in a way that kills specific molds dangerous to immune-deficient patients. They've partnered with a software company that develops pharmaceutical management programs, a manufacturer making Near-Infrared testing technology, and greenhouse engineers from Holland creating large-scale greenhouses that are entirely mechanized. "It's all part of our vision to get everything into a whole system design," says Cohen.
Much of the technology happening in the growth market involves LED lighting, which offers growers a more sustainable sophisticated lighting source to grow indoors. Among the technology Alawieh is working on are patents that look at how to enrich the growth cycle of specific strains at the cellular level, with the potential to create crops that bloom continuously, rather than seasonally, yielding more marijuana per plant.
Alawieh has licensed RXNB's technology to CEN Biotech, an offshoot of the publicly traded company Creative Edge Nutrition, based just outside of Detroit. The company broke ground on a $12 million manufacturing facility in Ontario, Canada and plans to grow and sell 1.3 million pounds of medical marijuana this year in the Canadian market. "Everything will be completely computer-automated," says Bill Chaaban, CEO of Creative Edge Nutrition, which has made its bread and butter selling nutritional supplements and energy drinks in the U.S. "You're not going to have a guy walking around with a ponytail and jeans."