High Spirits

#023 - Leveraging AI to Increase Cannabis and Hemp Sales w/ Ben York of Genetica

December 22, 2023 AnnaRae Grabstein and Ben Larson Episode 23
High Spirits
#023 - Leveraging AI to Increase Cannabis and Hemp Sales w/ Ben York of Genetica
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Discover how the world of cannabis is being reshaped by AI, with our revelatory exploration into the industry's most cutting-edge technology. Before diving into all things AI, join Ben and AnnaRae as they weigh-in on the buzz around Snoop Dogg’s Do It Fluid and Dr. Carl Hart's passionate advocacy for critical thinking in drug policy.

We're joined by Ben York, former investor and CEO of cannabis AI technology company, Genetica. As we peel back the layers of AI's influence on cognitive functions, we balance the scales of optimism with caution. Systems inside and out of the cannabis industry are all up for discussion as we examine their impact on how we process information and arrive at decisions. We consider how strategic questioning powered by AI, like Genetica's, is essential for businesses to stay competitive in a fast-evolving market with thin margins.

Wrapping up, we tackle the thorny issues of trust and data standardization in the cannabis industry, revealing how AI is sculpting new levels of confidence among B2B customers. We're not shying away from the big questions: What does AI-driven data cleanliness mean for other sectors? How does automating analysis empower business teams? And how will AI redefine compliance management within the regulatory labyrinth? Get ready for an episode that offers a panoramic view of AI's pivotal role in the cannabis sector, as we discuss its promise and the people leading the charge towards a smarter, more trustworthy industry.

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Speaker 1:

Hey everybody, welcome to High Spirits. I'm Ben Larson, and with me, as always, is the smartest co-host one could hope for Aniray Grabstein. Aniray how are you doing?

Speaker 2:

today. Really good how you doing Ben.

Speaker 1:

I'm doing great. A little bit of deja vu, but here we go. Yeah, no, super excited about today. The topic may eventually lead to my demise as a host of a podcast, because maybe it'll just do it for us. We're going to be talking about AI all the things that it can do to be helping the cannabis industry accelerating sales. We've talked about AI a lot on this show, so really excited to geek out on this. But besides that, aniray, happy Saturnalia.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much. Why don't you tell our listeners about Saturnalia, Mr Ben?

Speaker 1:

Do you actually really want to know? Is it too geeky? I was on a call with Kershid Koja, one of our earlier guests, and he was a part of the Latin club when he was in high school. He was the one that educated on me. But Saturnalia is celebrated from December 17th to the 23rd. I think maybe that date range has even expanded. It's an ancient. I'm going to read it right here it's an ancient Roman festival and holiday held to celebrate the agricultural god of Saturn. It was the most popular holiday on the ancient Roman calendar and was derived from older farming-related rituals of midwinter and the winter solstice. So I felt it had a nice connection to the cannabis industry. An agricultural-based industry Also came to find out. There's a lot of practices that can be found in maybe one of the holidays coming up. They had wreaths and candles and gift giving so many things that we have discovered over the years. Depending on who you ask, I guess a lot of those things have been co-opted for Christmas, sure.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm just going to be honest here. While I love a good party and a good holiday, it's enough already on December.

Speaker 1:

I'm using it as a replacement of happy holidays. It's not more.

Speaker 2:

If you have a better knowledge in February, that would be cool.

Speaker 1:

I'm just going to replace Christmas in Hanukkah and all that kind of stuff with it.

Speaker 2:

It's like Saturn holiday Awesome, I love it. Well, tell me others Other good stuff about this week. I heard that Snoop Dogg is rolling out a beverage.

Speaker 1:

It's rolling. He did this whole smokeless campaign I think everyone saw it about a month ago for Solo Stove, which I had known about the beverage because we are infusing it. But I was sorely disappointed when the catch at the end wasn't the launch of the beverage but it was the launch of the Solo Stove. But lo and behold, he did launch it. I'm going to add this article from Los Angeles Mag Snoop Dogg releases the cannabis-infused beverage Dewitt Fluid as a smoking alternative.

Speaker 1:

There's the dogfather himself. Shout out to my team. I know from the day that we've entered this industry that we wanted to work with Snoop Dogg and get an infused beverage with his name on it. I'm going to scroll down to the bottom of this article because it made me laugh and somewhat tremble with fear. It says Dewitt Fluid is infused with cannabis. That's grown in Northern California by the Canabinoid Technology Company Vertosa, and I'm like, okay, let's start with the fact that, yes, hemp is cannabis, but this is indeed a hemp beverage. You'll see CBD and Delta 9 on here. We did not grow it. We don't grow, so, like PSA, we're not expanding our business, but we're in California. I'm in.

Speaker 1:

California, right now so that part's accurate, but super excited about it. The branding. It's not for everyone, I'll go ahead and say that, but it's exciting. I'm excited to have this man's face all over the infused beverage category right now.

Speaker 2:

I agree. He's a great evangelist for the plant and everything about it, and I think that him getting into beverage is going to bring some new folks into the fold. So excited to see how that unfolds. For sure I love seeing some new folks.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's just a continued momentum for this beverage category.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely for sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, what about you? What's happening? Are you drinking Dewitt Fluid?

Speaker 2:

I'm not. I'm drinking coffee, as I usually do in the morning, but this week has been really good. I spent some time with a guy named Reggie Harris that you guys should all look for on the internet and in the world. He's the founder of a psychedelics lab called Hyphy Lab, or Hyphy Lab in Oakland, and has this really cool podcast, and he inspired me through his podcast, after an interview with Carl Hart, to reread and re-listen to some of Carl Hart's books, notably Carl Hart's book High Price and Drug Use for Grown Ups, which I would recommend to everybody out there. You guys should definitely listen to them or read them.

Speaker 2:

Dr Carl Hart is a professor at Columbia who studies neuropsychology and talks about addiction and drug policy.

Speaker 2:

So one of the things that has really inspired me about diving into Carl Hart's work is just thinking about critical thinking and the importance of critical thinking and how critical thinking has been lost in many ways in our culture.

Speaker 2:

There's been a lot of acceptance of information and those are the ways that stigma is often created around different behaviors and populations of people and things like that, and so I've just been super re-inspired to just turn on all fire around critical thinking, and that ended me up in a room yesterday at Meadow in San Francisco the Meadow office talking about cannabis policy and using my critical thinking brain to reimagine what policy could look like in California to actually make some substantive improvements for the industry here in this state.

Speaker 2:

And I have to just call out David Huah, the founder and CEO of Meadow. Huah is a treasure to the cannabis industry. For anybody that doesn't know him, the way that Huah brings people together in a room and shows up as a leader a leader that's interested and curious of what other people have to say and is committed to creating spaces for all types of folks to have input into process is just something that is worth giving a shout out here, and we should have Huah on the show sometime to talk about it. But he led a great discussion yesterday and I'm excited to see where that goes in terms of making some policy change in California to free things up for the industry. And I think policy change is slow to happen, but we got to hold on to hope somehow, right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I love Huah. I love everything that he stands for in this industry and he was one of the first mentors or advisors that we had engaged with Gateway back in 2016. He mentored a group of entrepreneurs coming into the space and I love a lot, frankly have modeled a lot of just the community aspect of the cannabis industry like my approach there after what he's done but it's impossible to match him but the critical thinking aspect that you brought up.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I went on a rant?

Speaker 1:

Were you successful in getting some of the attending policymakers to also maybe critically think? Because I think that's what we've been lacking the most as we build out these regulatory systems.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know so. Also a friend of high spirits, hirsh Jane, was in the room and Hirsh was texting with me this morning, and another person that if you don't know who Hirsh is, you should Great policy thinker doing a lot of smart work, moving policy forward in different ways. And he texted me this morning thinking about the meeting and the conversation that we had yesterday, and he was basically like what do you think? Are you hopeful? And the truth is, is I'm not particularly optimistic or hopeful that the state legislatures are prepared to do what it really is going to take to shift some of the over regulation and policy problems in California. However, I think that starting to have conversation about bold ideas is the type of effort that is useful to start to figure out what those bold ideas are that can really move the needle. And some of those ideas that I particularly talked about is, I think, thinking about the way that we approach credit terms in California from a policy perspective and the way cash moves through the supply chain.

Speaker 2:

I think another one is that there is starting to be some discussion about the way that hemp and cannabis relate to each other, and I threw out kind of a unique idea, but one of the policy makers that was in the room was talking about looking at cannabis products in three categories as the non-psychoactive kind of traditionally CBD products, low-dose products that could be either from hemp or from cannabis and of more high-potency products.

Speaker 2:

And I thought, well, what if we just threw out there as a bold move that if we're going to allow and create pathways for low-dose hemp products, maybe we also, through regulation in California, free up some opportunity for existing cannabis manufacturers and let them also put their low-dose cannabis products outside of the dispensary model into the same places that low-dose hemp products could potentially be allowed one day.

Speaker 2:

And could that be something that could incentivize manufacturers to stay in the regulated cannabis supply chain, because they would be able to play in both spaces? And I realized that this is controversial and complicated, but these are the type of bold ideas and critical thinking that I think that is needed in order to actually do something that could improve the situation here. Because the reality is that overall, the entire cannabis market in the US is hovering somewhere around $30 to $35 billion. But if California cleaned up its act, we could move the needle. The whole value of the market could increase by $2 to $6 billion just because California figured out how to better create cannabis policy and regulate. So I hope the market can free up and I'll get off my soapbox now.

Speaker 1:

All right. Well, also in the lane of critical thinking and this actually critical thing I'm going to use this as a segue into bringing on Mr York Sounds good. One of my big fears of AI is if people use AI and they aren't being critical when using it, they might lose that ability to critically think. It's one of my fears, and so that's going to be one of the first questions I want to dig into. But before we dig into the question, let's get Ben introduced and get him on the show.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so today we're talking about AI and we are bringing on Ben York, the CEO of Genetica, and Genetica is a suite of AI tools that were developed first for cannabis, but I think that Ben will tell us there's opportunities to utilize it outside of the cannabis space as well. And Ben is coming to us today with a diverse range of experience as an investor in the cannabis industry and also as someone that worked for investors. He worked in a family office accelerator space managing a startup portfolio. Before that, he worked with the ArcView Group and the ArcView Collective Fund, which most people know is focused in the cannabis industry, and it was through ArcView where Ben met the founder of Genetica, christian. And so welcome, ben York, ceo of Genetica. So happy to have you today.

Speaker 3:

I'm really happy to be here. Thanks for having me. It was really cool hearing the comments earlier too. I'm a big fan of Dr Karl Hart as well, so, yeah, good to be in a like-minded circle.

Speaker 1:

Awesome, we have two Ben's with similar backgrounds, yeah, okay, so Ben kind of dovetail off of, like my lead in. Are you afraid of people losing the ability to critically think if they're leaning too much or not thinking critically when engaging with AI?

Speaker 3:

Yeah? I think the short answer is yeah, it's definitely a concern, right, like you don't want people to be blindly making decisions based on what a machine is telling them, right? But I think the alternative right now is that they're making decisions without complete information, and so is that worse. I'd say it is right, because making decisions in a vacuum without complete information could be even worse consequences. I think what we want to do as well is not just allow the software to make decisions for people, but to explain the rationale behind those decisions as well, which is a big part of what we've done in our FloraMash product is to actually use AI to break down why we're recommending products to individuals. This is the rationale you are looking for X, y and Z effects products, whatever. This is why this product is suited for you, and it's a similar thing from an operational perspective with our operating system product as well To be able to click in and dig in to see.

Speaker 3:

Okay, why am I being shown this? Why is this an anomaly? Why is this being highlighted to me? It helps to hopefully encourage more critical thinking instead of blindly just clicking like, yes, do this, take this action for me. You know what I mean.

Speaker 2:

I'm with you. I think that while I hear you, mr Larson, about losing critical thinking with AI, I think about it a little different in terms of AI making it possible to free up some of the analysis to actually critically think. Because, especially, we're seeing the way that we have to prompt chat GPT as an example, and really learning how to ask, which is about learning how to ask the right questions and using the tools to get the answers in a way that is, I think, more easy to break apart, and so I think about it for the difference between having to figure out how to answer the question versus having the answers and giving yourself the opportunity to critically think about them and use different decision-making matrices to do that. And I'm most familiar with chat GPT. That's the AI tool that I use the most.

Speaker 2:

We use some others on this podcast and in our work, but I'm curious of within the context, ben, mr York, of what you're doing with Genetica. Are people asking it questions or are you choosing what data a company is feeding into the AI to give it some information? What does someone get from using your AI?

Speaker 3:

I think there's two different ways to look at it. You can a big part of it, and one aspect that we definitely wanted to push out first is being able to ask your data questions, to be able to ask very, very pointed questions, to understand your consumer base, your operations, that much better and get real answers to. So I think it's a rudimentary one, but if you want to understand who is buying a specific SKU, you can ask it that, or what types of customers are coming in between certain hours I think those are pretty straightforward or who should use staff for a specific shift and why and that ends up breaking into the demographics who's actually coming in that day? What's going on in the world as well. I think that's one thing that's not really taken into account very often today is the weather is going to affect foot traffic and that's going to affect how many people you have on the store or should have.

Speaker 3:

You want to be operating as profitably as possible, and if you've got an overstaffed store location, then you're not optimizing your operations as much as you could. So that may not be a question you're asking. You're not going to ask what the weather is, but you can ask again who to staff for a specific shift and let's say the specific customer type is going to come in more often on a Friday morning. That's going to help inform that decision as well. So you can and you want the people staffed during those shifts to speak to that customer base as best as they can to like. Maybe you have a specific FUD tender who works really well with people looking for concentrates or topicals or whatever. You want to be able to staff accordingly based on that demand as well. Just scratching the surface on examples there.

Speaker 1:

So I'm starting to build like a mental map of this, right? So you have your historical sales data. You're dumping that into some data repository. It's leveraging the language models to communicate, evaluate, create these outputs. I've often wondered this as AI proliferates and the engines become stronger and more accessible, how does a company like yours continue to build value and build the moat? Because I'm asking you to kind of put on your investor hat, right, because we always talk about what's your technological moat how do you continue to protect yourself? You don't have to give away genetic, because trade secrets. But, yeah, how are you thinking about that? Because I think it's such a vastly accelerating market or concept that people are having a hard time wrapping their heads around not only how to use AI, but how to invest in it, or how is one tool better than the next, and we see a lot of things spinning up. So, yeah, just curious about your thoughts on that.

Speaker 3:

So I'll get to the moat piece in a second. But I think part of it too is that the the rapid development in other tools that we can also utilize is something that we keep our finger on the pulse of right. So I won't mention the company explicitly, but we're kind of a case study for them. I mean, they're a general tech AI company backed by the biggest funds in Silicon Valley, but we're going to be in a test case for them because they get to test out their software on another AI tool set right. So we're always trying to use the latest and greatest within our own internal software stack, and that's been really beneficial because the pace of change in this category is pretty exponential.

Speaker 3:

So if we're not paying attention to what's going on around us cannabis industry or not, like it's going to pass us by. So I think in that sense too, you know part of the mode, if you will, is just like how much can we connect to and how quickly can we train our models right? Because in building out a tool like our Flora operating system, the more scenarios that we can pump into our software the better. So it's better trained it can you know, no two stores are exactly the same. What works for the single store in Oklahoma is not going to work for the MSO, and so it's about understanding how those and it's not even just like it won't work for them, like it's not even relevant at some level and so it's understanding those different customer segments as well and how to best serve them.

Speaker 3:

And then that entire corpus of information helps us understand the industry that much better too. So, you know, I think it's kind of a roundabout way to answer it, but our mode is just, you know, the faster we can move and the more information we can leverage, the harder it is to catch up. I mean, you see it, with like open AI or Bard or some of those others right and like, to play catch up to some of those companies is going to be really challenging, just because of the massive amounts of capital they have at their disposal and the number of users that they have on their platforms too. So you know, it's hard to see other startups playing catch up there, and that's similar to what we're trying to replicate as well. So we just move as fast as we can, deploy as fast as we can and, you know, get as much information as possible.

Speaker 2:

So you talked about kind of the difference between a single store and an MSO and understanding the customer as a way to create relevant insights, which I think is obviously it's kind of table stakes is like if you're not getting information that's useful. But one of the things that occurs to me is that I see that there tends to be a lot of kind of fear because of misunderstanding around AI, and it's the same way that we have heard about fake news and just people don't trust machines, they don't trust media. They love to trust and to not trust anything right. I'm wondering, like how you're able to build trust with your data, with the customers that are using it, and if you've had people push back and question the accuracy of the information that your AI is providing.

Speaker 3:

Pushback on the output? Not yet, you know, on the. So we're, you know, a B2B company first and foremost, and so I would say there hasn't been any pushback whatsoever from our client base, because they understand that, you know, the more we have access to, the more valuable our product is to them. So there's no hesitation there to utilize our tools and, you know, to get the most out of it. On the customer side, you know, we've seen that when they're in store and getting recommendations, a lot of times the reaction is actually the opposite. Where they're reading into that rationale and because it's based on what they've selected in their intake form, it immediately builds a higher level of trust. They're able to say, oh yeah, you know I that makes sense, why it's recommending this for this reason, or especially if they product comes up in the recommendation that they purchased before, that immediately builds an incredible level of trust where it's like an immediate validation point Like this knows me better than I know myself almost, and we've actually had that reaction too. It's it's it's pretty exciting to hear testimonials of people, you know, walking through the product and then like hearing that that customer stayed an extra five to 10 minutes talking about how excited they were to use this how they couldn't believe it was. You know, they didn't have access to something like that before. And what's cool about that to the store as well is that the longer that person's in the store, the higher likelihood that they're going to spend more to even if they've already made their purchase. If they're hanging out talking to the blood tender, they might go ahead and purchase another product too. You know that's that's a factor that isn't really taken into account. People think about throughput and getting as many people in and out of the door as possible, but the longer they spend in the store, the higher likelihood they are to spend even more. So it's it that excites me in a couple of different ways. But you know, so far so good. It's been a really, really positive reception and we haven't had in at trepidation.

Speaker 3:

I think the biggest hesitation really is around, like the ID component too. But that's, you know, again, table stakes for the industry as a whole. Right, you can't not show an ID, you can't not, you know, check that box as a retailer too. But you know, and some of the more, actually it doesn't really matter if it's rural or urban. You know there is some hesitation like, oh, I don't want to be in like a database or anything like that, like I don't want to give my ID to the retailer to check me in and then they just walk out anyway. So that, I think, is the only hesitation that we see. But that's more of a cannabis industry thing, not necessarily our technology, if that makes sense.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm coming around, I'm getting an even fuller picture of I. I'm thinking about, like engaging with my, my finance team, my marketing team and and being like, oh, let me get this data set. And there's usually this cycle of like, oh well, we'll take this HubSpot output, you know like, oh, let's, let's filter this and then compare these and draw these trends. And it's sounding like that cycle is now potentially automatic and like fast. So it's kind of like superpowers powers these teams.

Speaker 1:

And then it kind of like reminded me of this conversation I was having last week with with, with my, my friend who's in the real estate industry, and he just took a bunch of data sets that he had dumped them in, dumped it into his own repository and then started just asking very open in questions like what takeaways might you pull from this data?

Speaker 1:

And I thought that was really interesting, and not only like being able to like do it on a single data set, but like being able to cross-reference multiple data sets. When you start getting into that 3D view, like doing that manually with all like a bunch of different spreadsheets, that's where, like you know, a human, like their eyes might start going crossed, and I think that's super powerful. How do we do you think and this is going to be a little bit of a left turn but like, how does this compare to, not the cannabis industry, where we don't have like super definitive amounts of data? And I'm immediately thinking about, you know, the hemp industry, the emerging, you know, d9 category, you know, how might this, this kind of like, how might this be useful in kind of those industries where data is more challenging to come by?

Speaker 3:

That's a good question. I think you know what we've seen in the cannabis industry first is is I'd almost flip the question around, because what I would say is that in the cannabis industry, the data cleanliness and standardization varies widely from store to store, brand to brand, product to product, and so we've gotten really good at assisting our clients with that. You know, we're not here to be consultants. We're not going to tell you how to, you know, manage your data. Like, yes, there is a level of efficiency that you can gain from having that cleaner and having that more standardized and having more straightforward processes about how you manage that. But we'll help them with that too, and that's been really well received from our clients too.

Speaker 3:

I think as we move into other industries and you know let's talk, I guess, hemp as like a side step into other categories too you know we'll see what the level of granularity looks like in their data.

Speaker 3:

I think what's exciting for us too is then you start to incorporate more general tech e-commerce tools in there, and there's a layer of information that is accessible that we don't necessarily have in the regulated THC markets too. So that's pretty exciting. But I think there's something else I wanted to touch on as well in what you had mentioned earlier about your own staff and gathering that information, putting those reports together to make decisions. I hate to strong, where I'm not going to say hate, but I really bristle at the term AI but tender, because our job is not to replace anyone, it's to augment people, it's to make your staff that much better, to sell more, to watch their bottom line, to be more efficient. That's the way the industry wins, that's the way stores stay around is not by replacing individuals, but letting them, enabling them to do their job that much, that much better and efficient.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I like to think of it as kind of like super powering our teams and it's yeah, I mean it's building a lot of efficiency, right. It's like we get to move faster, faster marketing Again, kind of in the world of startups, which I don't like to couch my company as a startup, but at the same time, every company in the cannabis industry is a startup. Speed and speed to market is super important and the faster you can learn about your information, the better you're going to be able to operate your business and adjust as you go.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm curious to ask both of you a question, as you're talking about utilizing these different tools and being more efficient. So far, what we've been talking about is the AI giving us information and helping us to sort through it. The idea with AI, though, is moving fast and it's expanding and changing, and a lot of people are talking about how AI is going to take it to the next level and start not just giving you information, but doing things for you. So, like, instead of just giving you the insight about your customers, or maybe Ben on your finance team, giving you insight about performance, actually going and taking the action to fill out a form or to send out an invoice for you and or to keep up with your customers, like, send them that email, follow up that you didn't, or whatever and I'm curious of the level of comfortability that you both feel with that. Like, are you ready for the AI to start taking action on your behalf, or do you want to keep having insight into all the steps first?

Speaker 3:

I think that there has to, at least to start out.

Speaker 3:

We'll see what it looks like in a year or two from now, but for the time being, there has to be a little bit of a check and balance, like we have to have like a sanity check in there to make sure that something you know is that the machine isn't taking an action that we wouldn't want it to.

Speaker 3:

I mean, and that could be as simple as like a marketing message, right, like you know, maybe it thinks that you're you wanted to send out a message to a specific audience and offer a promo, but there's a reason that you haven't discounted that product and aren't reaching out to that audience. Totally hypothetical, no idea what that reason might be. But you know, unchecked, you could potentially be losing out on revenue because you're discounting products that you didn't want to, or offering it to a segment that's going to come in and purchase that product anyway. You know, it just so happens that it's been on the shelf for longer, and so you know the AI is thinking, okay, well, we got to move this product, what's the right price for it, but you may not want to take that action, and so you need to be able to step in and tell it no. So I think you know eventually we'll probably get there.

Speaker 2:

But Well, let me ask a follow-up. So, like, what you're talking about are more things that there is sort of a decision that is needed, like what it should be the price of the product but let's think about something that there isn't a decision needed but there is an action that's clear. So, more on for something cannabis clients are very familiar with on the compliance side. So let's say that is it possible that there a business could create sort of its profile, its source of truth? And so if, let's say, you got a new investor and you went in and you said, okay, I now have a new owner that I need to put in my profile, I just put a new owner on my cap table, and the AI knows, or could know, theoretically, that not only did you just put that new investor on your cap table, but that triggers a whole bunch of actions.

Speaker 2:

There's a notice that's due to the state, there's a notice that's due to the city, there is a filing with the secretary of state, whatever it is. There's a whole bunch of actions that are needed. Is there a world that we're moving towards that the tool would be able to say, okay, you just changed your profile, you now have this new investor. And here are the 10 things that that triggers of actions that are supposed to take. Do you want me to take them for you, yes or no?

Speaker 3:

I mean that's just real quick. I mean that's exactly how we've designed it, so that you're. Do you want us to take this action for you? You know yes versus no, but yeah, I'll let Ben jump in.

Speaker 2:

I love that we're moving there. Okay, good, because. I want that.

Speaker 1:

That sounds great.

Speaker 1:

When you first asked the question, anare, I was thinking of, like, how we go through the process of onboarding a new supplier.

Speaker 1:

Right yeah, so when we get material from someone, we run it through the whole battery of tests and we make sure that it's exactly what they reported to us, because typically someone will send us a certificate of analysis, a COA, and you know we'd like to trust it at face value.

Speaker 1:

But we all know, anare, you in particular, you know the testing standards, or lack thereof, you know, across the industry. So we'll do a very, you know, kind of expensive, regimented test. The second order will do the exact same thing and then the third order will do the exact same thing. But if we get three in a row, then we're feeling pretty confident and then we'll start spot checking, you know, on into the future, and I'm imagining that you know these various functions, depending on how autonomous you want them to be or how automatic they could be, that you would kind of set up this logic where essentially you're very engaged in the beginning and then over time, you know it starts like parsing out, but I think a spot check here and there, you know, could be very, very helpful just to make sure that everything's remaining on track.

Speaker 3:

And to that point too, after a certain number of reps going through it, if it's done there, when something is out of whack, that's when you want to be notified right, like if something doesn't fit that general pattern, that's when you want the ed eye to step in and say, well, hey, this, this is different from what you've approved in the past. Like, is this, okay, you know what I mean. So there is like an automatic check and balance in there too, where it's learning what the anteem, what the right bandwidths are, what that standard deviation is and the information that you're submitting and approving.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Because if we could free ourselves of those more menial decisions because there is a black and white, a yes and no to be made then, going back to the great Dr Carl Hart and how we started this episode, like talking about critical thinking then theoretically we could all be choosing to free up our minds for more critical thinking of the information that actually matters and space for creativity and those types of things, and I mean that's what feels like. Is what's so exciting about this technology is how can we do what we're already doing better, so that we have more capacity to use our human brains to do cool shit?

Speaker 1:

That is the hope, that's the dream, right I?

Speaker 2:

think so.

Speaker 1:

That's what Sam Altman and all the AI heads are promising is going to be the opportunity and not the elimination of everyone's jobs. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I mean well. So that's a great segue, like how a lot of people are talking generally in AI about like, well, how is AI going to change the way that the workforce looks? How does this change the way that we start educating our kids? And certainly we're having a lot more conversations about the value of the people that do things physically with their hands the builders, the doers, the things that the machines can't replace, necessarily. But how does AI and the tools that are created for cannabis change the industry? What's different two years from now because of AI than what we see today?

Speaker 3:

My number one goal is to help make retailers more profitable, and I think there's a number of knock-on effects that happen from there, but it ends up being like a cornerstone in the industry that helps stabilize a lot of what's going on right now, because if retailers have more demand, they're able to forecast better, they're able to tighten up their operations.

Speaker 3:

That should hopefully have knock-on effects down the supply chain as well. So hopefully rising tide lifts on boats and makes the industry a little bit more, provides a little more stability to the industry as a whole. But I think the other effect too is I want to see those effects in the ripple throughout the broader economy too. I like to think of this as helping small businesses, and if you're able to help a small business and your community thrive, what other positive effects does that have and outcomes does that have in that municipality as well? So one you just hopefully that the industry is better served and more profitable and barring any regulatory changes and 280B and all of that. But I want to see communities connect with their local retailers too. And that's on the HEM side, that's on the THC side, yeah.

Speaker 2:

But what actual jobs change? So you say you're going to make retailers more efficient or more profitable. That could happen through a few different ways. More customers could be coming in, the transactions could be more profitable. But for the humans, how do our actions shift in this AI enabled world? I mean?

Speaker 1:

I'm going to say something that is very relevant to the cannabis industry right now.

Speaker 1:

It's like it might actually make companies profitable, right? Because right now, to run effective sales strategies and marketing strategies, you have to have teams of people that can really effectively do that, and so if you're building efficiency within the ranks and being able to eliminate yes, you're eliminating positions here, you're not eliminating the team itself, but instead of a five-person team, maybe it's a three-person team or a two-person team that's a huge impact to the bottom line. Any of us that run a business know that your salaries and your employee support costs are the most impactful part of the business, and so I mean I gave a little preview of something when I was pulling up the article. I was just counteracting something. You said, hanrae, that they aren't going to be taking the physical and bud-tender job. I just saw this article recently, as Amazon's humanoid warehouse robots will eventually cost only $3 per hour to operate, which is a little terrifying. I also don't want to be buying my weed from a robot Something to look forward to.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I hear you and I guess you're right. There are lots of physical activities that robots could replace, and maybe in the cultivation space that's the case. I think that there are some things like repairs and build out for cultivation. You're never going to replace the plumber and the HVAC guy that's going to crawl up into the attic and install your air conditioner with a robot. That's just impossible. So I think that maybe I shouldn't say impossible and that thing's impossible it was never.

Speaker 2:

I love this, but I believe I mean. My prediction is that those types of roles become more valued to our whole society and our whole economy as time goes on, because they're harder to replace with machines than the copywriter for the social post we're getting dangerously close to it.

Speaker 1:

We're getting dangerously close to our existential crisis conversation here. Let's dial it back into cannabis a little bit more. Ben, I'm curious what are you seeing as far as the cannabis AI community? What other companies are you coming across? What other solutions are you excited about? Yeah, I mean, frankly, I haven't come across. I have come across them, I just haven't been able to wrap my head around how to incorporate into my business a lot lately. So I'd love to hear you probably have the lens what's exciting you in the space?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so shoot, and I want to make sure. I want to give someone a shout out and then mislabel the company. But there's some really cool compliance AI tools out there performing and when I say simple tasks, it's something that an individual would have to dedicate probably a large amount of their decent amount of their day to, but the oversight and the rules that are applied to that setting again free up their time to focus on the task. So the one I'm thinking of specifically is looking at social media posts. Is this in compliance, yes or no? What's the risk associated with this post if we send it out here? That's something that's risk reduction for the brand or the operator. That's freeing up an individual's day to focus on other tasks that are maybe more revenue generating. It gives everyone peace of mind, the regulators are cracking down less and it's a win-win situation. That's one that really caught my eye. As a no brainer If you, why not use this From a risk reduction perspective? You have to.

Speaker 3:

Those kinds of tools are really exciting to me. I think there's on the cultivation side, too. Our goal, eventually, is to collaborate on the production side as well and provide some of the insights we're collecting from consumers about products to help inform how products are made as well. We're not there yet. That was the knockoffs. Tools of the cultivation stage that are leveraging AI are also really exciting too. Being able to change nutrient levels on the fly based on what the data is being collected at the point level that's pretty cool and again, freeze up time saves costs and hopefully again we can provide some insights to collaborate with companies at the early end of the supply chain, too.

Speaker 2:

That's how Are you guys getting together and having AI meetups of cannabis industry? We've got so many kind of special interest groups within cannabis Everge Association, manufacturers Association, distributors Association. Is there a cannabis AI group?

Speaker 3:

Well, there's a Canada Datacon in February, hosted by Delta Emerald, no affiliation.

Speaker 1:

That's all I have to say about you there.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's honestly probably where a lot of these conversations are happening, and rewind to February of this year, before I was affiliated with well before I was in this role with Geno. I was still an advisor, but that was the conversation. It's like who's going to help out with standardizing data? Everyone's kind of passing the buck. No one wants to take responsibility for that. Like where is that going to come from? I think we're starting to see some of the answers crystallize there, but I think that's where the most thought provoking conversations are around.

Speaker 3:

Data in the industry is events like that super highly focused on that topic? I can't remember who. This is going back a few months now, but a colleague and I were spitballing about creating a cannabis data industry collective and so that we can all get together and talk about these topics and strategize, and that never came through because it's hard to spin up like an industry agency. We're running a company too, and I'm sure Ben can attest to that as well, but I'd like to see that in the new year too. It's just like as much collaboration as possible, because these are really hard challenges in their industry wide and if we're not all working together then it doesn't benefit the industry as a whole.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, so you will be at. You'll be in Miami for Canada To come.

Speaker 3:

I hope so. I had a prior engagement that was actually planned like two years in advance, but it's in Florida, so we'll see. I might just drive up from the keys to Miami and for a day or so and check it out.

Speaker 1:

Amazing. Yeah, I just love everything that's going on in the space. I was on LinkedIn and I saw Jason Raposa from Good Fils. He basically took the regs in Massachusetts and just dumped them into his own like chat GPT repository and then he could just ask questions about the local regs and I'm like wow, that's like so powerful. That sounds like what used to be a tech company in itself, just spun up over the weekend by a single operator. Like just really fantastic. To think about all these, all these things in array, like what. What's exciting you most about AI in the space?

Speaker 2:

I mean, that whole compliance scenario that I described is in. Like, the idea of simplifying complex decision trees for the things that are black and white is like I'm pumped on that. That just sounds so freaking useful and I think that that goes through so many operational decisions. So I guess, less on the retail side for me, more on the like ways that we can also create better like onboarding experiences, better compliance experiences these things that are actually very complex for for companies to do. Well, I think that AI could really help us with.

Speaker 2:

I also just love when things get messy and I think that where we are right now with AI is that AI is the best way to do it. I know with AI is that we don't know what it's going to be, but we know that it's something that's important and is here to stay. So I'm here for it, to keep learning and and exploring and figuring it out as I go and I'll try anything. So for anyone that's out there like making new AI stuff, send it my way, because I I'm trying to turn my brain into an AI processor, so I'll go against you all day long, yeah awesome.

Speaker 2:

Well, so we're getting towards the end of the hour and the dialogue doesn't have to stop here, but we do need to move towards our last call, and so what that means for people that this is the first time listening is that this is where we turn it over to our guests and give them the opportunity to make their lasting impression. So, mr Ben York, what is your last call?

Speaker 3:

Last call is something I alluded to. The last question to is collaboration. First, reach out. You know we're we're here to connect with everyone in the industry, like, yes, our primary audiences retailers, but we were looking to connect with anyone and everyone at this stage. And so reach out our website, getgeneticacom. You can shoot me an email then at getgeneticacom. You know my personal ethos is like I want to hear and talk to anyone and everyone. So please, please, reach out and looking forward to some stimulating conversations after I love that the rising tide mentality.

Speaker 1:

There you go. The AI episode. I loved it. It's an opportunity to just geek out on things that I'm spending my time doing almost every day. Following the show, we're going to upload the audio into an AI machine. It's going to give us a transcript and chapters and all that kind of stuff. It's yeah, it's a whole new world that we get to get to explore now.

Speaker 2:

It really is on. Canada. I am planning on being there. I was in touch with the folks from Delta Emerald just, I think, yesterday, maybe the day before. So yeah, I want to keep this live show at Canada.

Speaker 3:

Is that what we're going to say?

Speaker 1:

Awesome, awesome. Well, also in the, in the vein of the rising tide, and collaboration, what did you guys think? Tell us if you want more AI, because we're going to bring it to you anyways, but what else would you like to hear? Who else would you like to have on? As always, this conversation is for you, our cannabis community. We're having a great time doing this. We're wrapping up the year. One more episode before before we close out 2023. So, even if you're on vacation next week, come check us out, subscribe to our podcast on Spotify, on iTunes, and leave us a five star rating. Please, please, please, please. It'll help the algorithms. Yeah, make us findable. Thanks to all of you, our listeners. It's been a great year. We just got our stats from BuzzFraut, super excited about the growth that we're starting to see in the show. Thank you to our teams at Vertosa and Wolf Meyer. Obviously, we couldn't do it without you guys and, as always, stay curious, stay informed and keep your spirits high Until next time. That's the show.

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Exploring AI in the Cannabis Industry