Colorado boasts a thriving medical marijuana industry as well as a vibrant tech scene. It's little wonder, then, that, courtesy of forward-thinking companies such as MJ Freeway and idWeeds, we're now starting to see inklings of a homegrown marijuana tech industry sprouting up along the Front Range. Is this the start of a hot new start-up scene, or a pot-smoke-filled bubble destined to burst?
So far, developers are zeroing in on software applications that help medical marijuana centers deal with supply-chain and checkout needs within the increasingly regulated industry. The first player out of the gate is MJ Freeway, a web-based point-of-sale system developed by local medical marijuana patient and programmer Mark Goldfogel that also tracks inventory, organizes patient information and helps with financial audits.
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MJ Freeway is up and running in a variety of marijuana businesses, but Goldfogel may soon be facing competition from the likes of idWeeds, another Colorado pot startup that's developing its own web-based MMJ software suite. IdWeeds, which was recently well received at the local tech conference Boulder Startup Week, aims to provide all the services of MJ Freeway and then some, including a smart-card program to track patient purchases and an eBay-like service to help dispensaries buy and sell excess marijuana among themselves.
Both services and other programs that may be in the works promise to provide much-needed organization to the still-nascent MMJ business world. But don't label any of them "the eBay of weed" just yet. For one thing, with the state's medical marijuana regulations very much in flux, any business software that hopes to be in it for the long haul is going to have to be constantly updated, or it's going to be as hopelessly obsolete as AOL.
Also, many medical marijuana centers have done just fine relying on traditional point-of-sale and inventory-management systems. If these tech upstarts hope to win over skeptics, they're going to have to prove that there is more to their industry-specific features other than just the marijuana references in their names.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Ganjapreneur says Arizona easier to do business in than Colorado right now."