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ERP Vendors Get Into Medical Marijuana Business 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the gone-to-pot dept.
jfruhlinger writes "As medical marijuana is legalized in more and more states, a new market is emerging for ERP applications that can handle this unique business. Many people running medical marijuana dispenseries aren't used to running legitimate businesses and need technical help doing so. In addition, the drug itself is tricky to keep track of; as one vendor puts it, 'there's no other product that is sold by weight that evaporates, dehydrates and [turns into] shake.'"
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ERP Vendors Get Into Medical Marijuana Business

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  • Maybe tobacco companies know a thing or two? Bars? Starbucks, even?

    • Re:Super unique. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Monday April 25, 2011 @07:44PM (#35936406) Homepage

      Repeat after me, we are all individuals. Yeah, the whole premise here is lame. ERPs are essentially custom tailored one-stop solutions for your business, it's pretty close to the definition of an ERP. So they wrote some special stuff for this business, just like they do for every business. Yawn.

      • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

        Look at small business Ag Business software and solutions.

        "...there's no other product that is sold by weight that evaporates, dehydrates and [turns into] shake." - Thats just not true, grain is sold by weight, it dehydrates, some of it is lost from mechanical breakdown, rot, etc

        • by mobby_6kl (668092)

          Yeah that seems to be a pretty ridiculous claim, there are plenty of products that degrade over time and experience shrinkage etc. Since I work at one of the larger business software companies, I'll ask around for what kind of solutions we have for this. I suspect that we'll have plenty to offer, the only problem I see is that most of these operations might be a bit too small.

          • by Kreigaffe (765218)

            I'm sure there are plenty of other products that lose weight due to dehydration and bits of it just turning into dust... but can you think of any that are sold for 10-20 bucks a gram? prices like that.. that's the realm of precious metals.

            then again, i have no idea what the prices at those stores are like. that's just general street price for the stuff.

            • by Khyber (864651)

              You are dead on with your dispensary prices.

              So glad I grow my own. AAA Medical, 20 bucks an OUNCE. Not per GRAM.

              • Gosh, that sounds like 70's prices, before somebody figured out that the X-generation was stupid and would pay absurd prices for what was and remains basically a weed...

                But why does it cost you $20/ounce to grow your own? I would have expected it to be more like $2/ounce, or $0.20/ounce. Seeds: free (or a one time expense). Growing pots: $10, reusable forever. Potting soil (per pot) $3 if that. Water, fertilizer, light -- so little that it might as well be free but hell, call it $1/plant. Human t
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Khyber (864651)

                  $20/ounce is actually a low price. Most outdoor growers average $50 an ounce to obtain AAA medical quality. Most indoor growers using HID spend about $100-150 per AAA ounce produced. Also, outdoor growing is actually very inefficient and soil takes much longer than hydro to produce a crop.

                  It's cheaper for me because my particular system drops resource usage WAY, WAY down. LED for growth, NFT for highly reduced water usage and nutrient usage.

                  Waste not, pay not.

                  • My brother-in-law is a medical grower -- I'll have to ask him what he spends. Aside from some capital investment in climate and humidity control and light (amortized over years), I don't think it is that much. Of course he makes a small fortune per plant sold, so I suppose it doesn't matter. Growing weeds for enormous profits -- not since tobacco has there been such a deal.

                    Of course I'm a bit cynical about what "AAA medical quality" is of a drug that generally isn't assayed, that is grown from dozens
            • possibly printer ink..

        • In their defence, the dry product is - unlike grain - at least as desirable to consumers than the fresh, wet stuff. I didn't realise THC evaporated to any significantly detrimental degree, though.
          • Re:Super unique. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by DeathElk (883654) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:53PM (#35936970)
            I think it evaporates due to a phenomena known as "sticky fingers".
            • Re:Super unique. (Score:4, Informative)

              by itsenrique (846636) on Monday April 25, 2011 @10:52PM (#35937802)
              Ha ha. THC (and other active cannabinoids) do not evaporate but break down in the presence of light and/or oxygen. There is an optimal wetness (varies by individual preference), however it has to be dry enough to not mold if its in airtight storage (if its done drying, in other words). Theres a lot more too it proper drying and curing of pot, google is there for any interested souls. I don't think that quote was meant in relation to ANY and ALL products, but in relation to other medical products, like pills, creams, liquids, powders, etc.
            • by Phoghat (1288088)
              They never heard of air tight zip lock bags, or they don't want to know about them.
    • Indeed. Alcohol is sold by volume rather than weight, but I can't really see how that would change much on the software side of things. Take software for alchohol. Change the L to a G. You now have software that can be used for selling things by weight that evaporate, dry out, and go into shakes.

      If you want to -really- make a pot application dazzle your customers, maybe think about putting in a module which will do a google search for "deep questions" and then randomly put one into the report.

      "You
      • ... so I realize now that they're using a "technical" term and aren't talking about pot that goes into milkshakes, they're talking about stuff that gets too small to use. This still does not seem like much of a hurdle.
        • Especially since it's almost certainly a problem that the tobacco companies have solved in the past. All you need is a clean-burning binder.
          • It gets solved a bit differently for a dispensary I'd imagine. Think much smaller scale. Dried out, shaky, and otherwise substandard but still safe (not molded or a year old) are probably turned into pastries, candies, and other edibles. This has to be tracked on their end, doesn't sound too hard, but its a unique situation to be in.
            • Out of curiosity, why does dehydration matter? I mean, don't people want to pay for dry plant matter rather than water? Water won't get you high^W^W^W treat your California-approved medical ailment.
              • I was motivated enough to do a google search for "dried out weed" and came up with a digg discussion, the first few posts indicated it wasn't as good. I'm not going to read that for very long, so I'm concluding that it makes it bad if it's dried out too much. http://www.reddit.com/r/cannabis/comments/a9b4y/does_weed_get_better_the_longer_its_dried/ [reddit.com]
              • Interestingly enough there is a growing market for cannabis potency testing and one of the perks is knowing what type of nutrients are used. While this is a bit beyond (de)hydration the value goes beyond the plant matter. Various companies offer services in several states (California is not alone in the approval of medicinal cannabis), however consistency and practices vary wildly from company to company. A practical example: In the later stages of development some growers use nutrients which are high in po

              • Dehydration matters because it changes the weight. It is sold by weight, but gets lighter over time (to a limit, of course).
                • Right, but as it dehydrates, the percent THC content goes up - i.e., it gets more potent. The dispensary should be able to charge more per gram for a more potent product, since less of it is needed, no?
      • Actually, there is no reason for alcohol to be sold by volume other than that it usually is. I've seen a handful of smaller brewers and imports that sell by weight.

        from http://beeradvocate.com/articles/518 [beeradvocate.com]:

        "To convert ABW to ABV, simply multiply the ABW by 1.25. So a 7 percent ABW beer would be a 9 percent ABV beer. If for some reason you want to convert from ABV to ABW, multiply the ABV percent by 0.8"
        • Sorry to reply to myself, but as an aside, most mouthwash products have alcohol by weight included on their ingredients label. Mouthwash is actually as strong, or stronger, that many wines.
      • it depends if you measure specific gravity, %volume or proof.

    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:43PM (#35937348) Homepage Journal

      Starbucks, even?

      We don't have time for a handjob.

    • Just because they didn't properly capture the spirit of the uniqueness doesn't mean it's not unique There is essentially no comparison between tobacco and marijuana Different strains, hybrids, and a radical difference in effect as well as flavor, for example. A social website discussing the difference between marlboro and newport would be ridiculous, but one that discusses the difference of thousands of strains of pot from as many different sources does make sense. That is just one of myriad areas where
      • You have obviously never talked to cigar or pipe smokers. There is a significant difference between the flavor of a cigar made from tobacco grown in Honduras vs tobacco grown in Nicaragua. There are also several strains of tobacco that some pipe smokers prefer one over the other. Having been a pot smoker at one time and an occassional smoker of tobacco pipes and cigars, I can tell you that the discussions among afficionados of each are similar.
  • ERP? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Monday April 25, 2011 @07:38PM (#35936328)
    I guess we're talking about Enterprise Resource Planning [wikipedia.org]? At least that's the only thing on wikipedia that looked like it made sense.
    • I think that's right. We're talking about software designed to help with business resource management.

      Wish TFA or TFS had expanded the acronym.

    • by garcia (6573)

      Yeah and you have to be high to believe that ERP is necessary to run a dispensary. I just can't imagine that they're bringing in enough customers to need that kind of database horsepower.

      • by afidel (530433)
        ERP platforms range from Quickbooks to SAP with a whole lot of solutions in-between. Any company with more than 2 employees should have an ERP suite, my dad's business with a handful of employees uses Quickbooks for Manufacturing which is tailored for turning sub-assemblies into final products and handling that kind of inventory tracking and billing. As they say in the summary tracking natural inventory shrinkage is probably important with a business that's as heavily scrutinized as the medical marijuana di
        • We used to call that sort of thing an Accounting System.

          I imagine we call them ERPs to jack up the price and set up a business model where there's continuous fucking^W servicing of the customer.

          Honestly, after working within them for the past decade, I can't imagine anyone would want to calcify their business with such a tightly coupled morass requiring continuous upgrades.

          Just terrible

    • Interesting to note that the term "ERP" does not appear even once in the body of the article.

      It's two pages, run searches on both... it ain't there.

    • by hedgemage (934558)
      I was afraid ERP meant Erotic Role Playing.
      Wish the article would have cleared this up better.
      • by hellwig (1325869)
        "Erotic Role Playing" would make more sense to me than "Enterprise Resource Planning" which is just a made-up buzzword. Erotic Role Playing Vendor might be like a porno shop, the same shops that already sell all your paraphernalia needs (bongs, pipes, boxes, etc..).

        And what does this mean: 'there's no other product that is sold by weight that evaporates, dehydrates and [turns into] shake.'. Really, no other product? Medical Marijuana is the only plant-based product on the entire planet?
    • Yes, the type of software that Exxon uses.

      ERP manages many types of business activities, from manufacturing to materials management and HR to shipping and receiving.

      For more info, you can visit a website of one of the ERP leaders - http://www.sap.com/ [sap.com]

      No, I don't work for or with SAP anymore. I just know how powerful it can be.

      • by Daetrin (576516)
        Yeah, i'm familiar with SAP. The company i work for happens to be suing them for copyright infringement at the moment :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No Jail For Pot [nojailforpot.com]
  • Is there a SugarCRM module for running a medicinal marijuana biz?

  • They don't call denver the mile high city for nothing.... Colorado is rocky mountain high.
  • Oh, wait . . . damn, wrong thread. How'd that happen?

    Uhhh...

  • by scribblej (195445) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:09PM (#35936630)

    Plenty of businesses have to take this sort of thing into account. Look at any food service; they have to constantly calculate their 'food cost' and margin because food they buy doesn't always equal portions served; you sometimes get more or less in a dish, not to mention the stuff the cook dropped on the floor and didn't put back in the bowl, plus what the employees helped themselves to....

    I thought stoners were the people who staffed the food service industry. I guess either I was wrong or they were just too high to notice how the business works.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any Food Service Inc. isn't dealing with a controlled substance, which means they do not need to account for what happened to every gram of merchandise.

      - It says here you stocked X grams, but only sold half of it. Where's the rest?
      - It evaporated!

      Classic.

      • by hackerjoe (159094)

        Alright then, how about... a compounding pharmacy that deals with narcotics? I mean really. They're selling medicine compounded into different forms, this isn't some kind of strange, unique new business they're in. I can get compounded codeine lollipops for my kids from a pharmacy. Pot brownies aren't all that different.

        • by AvitarX (172628)

          I don't really know the specifics of their business, but plants can evaporate a massive amount when fresh.

          If they are growing there own this could be an issue.

          • by pjp6259 (142654)

            IIRC, the laws in Colorado state that dispensaries have to grow 70% of the product they sell.

    • by twebb72 (903169)

      ...not to mention the stuff the cook dropped on the floor and didn't put back in the bowl..

      Industry analysts predict that observing the 5 second rule saves small business an estimated 17 billion a year.

    • Spot on sir!!! Spot on!!
    • not to mention the stuff the cook dropped on the floor and didn't put back in the bowl

      A, those wasteful cooks... Hey, please could someone explain to this guy that you only throw away food from the floor if there's a guy from sanitary inspection who is watching...

  • I happen to work with a few people who have "The Card". Getting them to fill in the blanks on a CRM is hard enough. The idea of resource management is not even in the picture! The technology won't help this industry. The quality of the product will result in "Right Pricing" and the consumer is already aware...
  • "... there's no other product that is sold by weight that evaporates, dehydrates and [turns into] shake."

    Uh... breakfast cereal? Wait... Well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

  • If the weed is dehydrating and turning into shake, it isn't being stored correctly. A dispensary could use much less expensive and more practical means, like some mason jars, to fix that. I really don't see how an ERP system is better than a couple excel sheets and some common sense. Then again that could probably be said for 90% of ERP customers.
  • Pot has been the largest "off the books" agriculture in America for decades For several states it is the largest cash crop.. It takes a lot to hide that kind of money. I suspect the big growers have ERP systems they could license in competition with Oracle, unless they are just using Oracle's. Ask Larry.
  • the fact that it's not really legal (since Federal Law trumps state law)? On a side note, there's a goofy song [youtube.com] about how easy it is to get medical marijuana, but it occurs to me that's only true if you've got health care. The current system of medical marijuana works great if you're wealthy. You get to smoke all you want, and you still get to call the cops of there's poor people in your neighborhood and have them arrested :(. Based on this I wonder if we'll ever see it made truly legal so long as it's safe
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Federal law trumps state law? Well there's your problem. What ever happened to a weak federal government and a strong state/local government down there in the US anyway...

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        It's a little more complex than that. For areas that the Constitution grants authority to the Federal Government, Federal law has *always* (well, at least as long as the Constitution has been ratified) been the case that Federal law pre-empts State law.

        However, the argument that Federal laws regulating drug related activities that occur entirely within a State's borders somehow fall under the constitutional authority of the federal government seems rather strange to me.

        There's the concept, embodied in the C

        • by Anonymous Coward

          The part that always confused me is that when the Federal government wanted to ban a recreational drug back in 1919, they needed to pass a Constitutional amendment (XVIII) to do so. The Federal government didn't have the power to do it beforehand, so we passed an amendment; that's how the system works. (We later repealed that when it became clear that it was a terrible idea; another thing we sadly don't do anymore). Anyway, why is it that banning a recreational drug needed an amendment then but doesn't now?

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        That theory died around 1861...

  • I got the impression that most ERP vendors are smoking something...
  • Yes, pun intended, but seriously: many dispensaries are still getting raided by the feds, who take their computers and customer lists. Maybe a cloud-based ERP solution would be a good way to get around this, assuming you could crypto the fuck out of it. Just figure out how to remember the password before you toke up, and don't write the password down on rolling papers.

    • How does the cloud site, based most likely in america, get around this? Seems like it would be much more legally opertune to go for a centralized offsite cloud site, than hundreds of small businesses.

      Especially one which being a cloud, most likely crosses interstate lines? I could not think of a worse use for a "cloud" system than something federally illegal

      Why keep a customer list in the first place? No one writes down your info if you buy cigarettes I am pretty sure. This article is just stupid.

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        I think by "cloud" solution, the GP is intending something which is not owned and controlled by a single entity, but more of a massive peer-to-peer network. Something where your copies of your data are maintained all over the place, and where only small 'fragments' of your data are on any one computer.

        Add encryption so that you are the only one who can re-assemble and decrypt those fragments, and the security of the data would be somewhat good (although, as you rightly point out, if the Feds really want you

    • If you want security then you host your own data, else the gov cracks your server remotely. I suppose you could have a self destruct on your server, with password protection for access- I assume they (police) can't force you to testify (give password) legally. Of course your password would have to change with every single use to prevent key logging. You could use words from the US the constitution as your passwords, one word at a time in order- I don't expect they would figure out that one even if you
    • by lasinge (1009929)
      I have heard from a reasonably good source that crypto the federal government can't read is illegal. It has to be something they know about and have a backdoor key or can crack in a reasonable amount of time. haha to the last third of your comment, I'd mod you funny if I could.
  • Check out EmeraldPOS [emeraldpos.com].

    It is a CRM/POS that uses PHP/MySQL and it is apparently open-source!

  • It's already been done...

    Dope Wars [sourceforge.net]
  • Amateurs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @12:24AM (#35938408) Homepage

    Many people running medical marijuana dispensaries aren't used to running legitimate businesses.

    Right. We'd be better off if the stuff was just made a class II or III prescription drug and dispensed at real pharmacies. Some people have a medical need for it, but nowhere as many as the number of people wanting it.

    Having lived near San Francisco for years, I'm not impressed with the stoner community. There are way too many burnout cases on the streets.

    • by fishbowl (7759)

      >There are way too many burnout cases on the streets.

      And that's a result of marijuana use among people who are otherwise completely sober?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FYI the burnout cases on the streets aren't pot heads. They're likely heroin addicts or alcoholics. you probably don't know the difference. The burnouts are always going to be burnouts.

      FYI I am a 4.0 university student who smokes weed.

      It makes no sense to ban a substance from people like me because of a very small percentage of people who are not likely to achieve much in the first place. I'm in Denver, which is often talked about as the most weed friendly place in the US so YMMV, but I know more successful

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Dutch did. Turns out that the overhead of the medical system is so big, even those with prescriptions don't bother and just go to the local dealer.
      (Medical marijuana typically isn't covered by insurances, so patients pay either way).

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Let's get real though..... Yes, it's a valid drug to treat a number of issues, but unlike most prescription drugs, it's ALSO a relatively safe drug to use recreationally. The only reason we see the concern over it being handled via dispensaries and requiring a prescription at all is because that's the easiest "baby step" to take towards total legalization. If you want to release the government's grip on it, it's not really effective to complain that "I can't go out and get stoned with my buddies!" Govt.

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