Marijuana

For more than 50 years, if a scientist wanted to conduct a clinical trial using cannabis and needed to obtain the drug, the University of Mississippi has been the only game in town. 

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Tech-based startups are looking make buying recreational marijuana easier, developing websites and programs to help consumers explore, learn and make a purchase before they step into a dispensary.

The trend continues in the Las Vegas Valley and Nevada, as more tech companies are moving into the state and progressive marijuana laws encourage the development of cannabis-related businesses.

Many budding cannabis-based tech companies hope to offer the same consumer access that shoppers expect with traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, as more people hope to buy online with the ease of an app.

Greenery Map is one of a few start-up companies founded in the Valley, hoping to be a "Yelp" of sorts for marijuana users: their website and app offers reviews and information on thousands of strains, allows users to select "mood" choices to find the appropriate type of marijuana, locating thousands of dispensaries across North America, and even ordering online with an in-store pickup option.

"The dispensary can sell products. What technology can do is educate people so they know they'll buy the right product," said Tara Randolph with Greenery Map.

"People are busy, and they don't have an hour to spend while they go to the dispensary," she said.

Tech experts say the growth and development of such companies will only increase, as more states pass progressive marijuana laws and ease consumer access.

"Revenue just in Nevada in 2019 is just over $700 million, and the tax revenue is over $100 million," said Rob Marvin of PCMag, who has tracked the growth of the cannabis tech industry for several years.  

"The incentives for continuing to open regulatory doors is huge," he said.

Tech expansion will translate, Marvin said, into the development of new jobs. New Frontier Data predicts job numbers in marijuana-based companies to top 255,000 in 2019.

Tech companies specializing in marijuana are still subject to federal banking laws, as banks will not accept funds from marijuana sales. Tech companies hope for a change to those laws to encourage companies to emerge and grow.

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