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Posted Wednesday June 20, 2018 1:02:50 PM EDT

E-COMMERCE: HERE COMES THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY - “Attention Shoppers: Internet Is Open” the title of a 1994 New York Times article that encapsulated the moment when Phil Brandenberger of Philadelphia used his credit card to purchase a compact audio disk “Ten Summoners’ Tales” by Sting on August 11, 1994. This historical moment not only cemented Brandenberger’s place in cyberspace history, but also introduced the birth of a new type of shopping
mall – the cyberspace mall. This new medium of online transaction emerged from encryption technology and is known as E-commerce. E-commerce promised to revolutionize consumers’ shopping experiences and reformulate traditional business practices.

Like a fighting Spanish bull, E-commerce charged into the socio-economic consciousness of consumers and businesses and permeated every
facet of commercial activity in national and international marketplaces. Since its 1994 inauguration, E- commerce experienced exponential growth with unbridled voraciousness, which heralded in the beginning of the cataclysmic demise of many longstanding brick-and-mortar business giants, leaving a messy trail of mega-corporate vestiges.  E-commerce transformed consumers’ shopping and companies’ marketing experiences and promised to impact every foreseeable industry. Consumers are no longer confined to shopping centers for their favorite products, and companies are no longer relying on traditional marketing apparatuses. At any time of day, consumers can easily turn to their smart devices, scroll, add to the e-cart, preview, review and place an order for the desired product, which will appear on their doorsteps in a matter of days, if not hours. Companies of every ilk have also jumped onto this E-commerce bandwagon to move their products and accumulate relevant marketing data. Internet surveys laden with consumer data provide precise information on consumer habits such as spending, tastes, likes and dislikes, which is useful to predict consumer demand for products. Thus, if a company fails to incorporate E-commerce in its business plan, it’s a sure recipe for financial catastrophe for that company. The new and burgeoning cannabis business is no exception.

CANNABIS GOES E-CORPORATE - No longer is cannabis a seedy underground business of yesteryear. The cannabis industry has survived decades of pejorative governmental attacks and attempted assassination by major businessmen and their conglomerates who viewed cannabis as an economic threat to big business. Cannabis business has now prevailed into a legitimate corporate enterprise as more and more states have legalized cannabis for Medicinal and/or Adult-Use, and public perceptions have shifted into a positive light. Accordingly the need for E-commerce in the corporate cannabis industry is unequivocal.
In the cannabis employment sector, for instance, increasingly more and more cannabis freelancers utilize E-commerce as a means of conducting business with their clients. In the cannabis consumer sector, consumers can utilize E-commerce to shop for their desired cannabis products. E-commerce is
also crucial in the international trans-border cannabis trade sector. E-commerce is an important facet of many publicly traded Canadian cannabis companies engaged in international business transactions. They deem that E-commerce is an essential vehicle by which to trade, not only with its American neighbors,
but also with other international countries that are engaged in the cannabis industry. Like it or not, Cannabis is going E-corporate.

O CANADA, WE STAND ON GUARD FOR THEE - As the impact of globalization permeates international businesses, cannabis business bears no exception
in the inevitable use of E-commerce to conduct business in cyberspace. With laser foresight, the Canadian Federal government has responded by legalizing cannabis for Medicinal use, thus setting the stage for cannabis companies to utilize E-Commerce platforms on the international stage. Shopify, an Ottawa-based company, has begun the sale of cannabis on their website with a caveat, however, that  companies must validate that they can legally sell cannabis in their own country. The United States Federal government, unlike Canada, has woefully lagged behind its neighbor’s forwardness and has failed to act to legalize cannabis despite the legal trajectory that it was on. Thus, the status quo remains in the U.S., and cannabis is still illegal at the Federal government level and deemed a Schedule 1 drug. Despite the legal ambiguity in the U.S., cannabis is here to say and will not recede in the shadows of the past. In fact, it will move forward to take its place into the socio-economic fabric of the American society. Accordingly, the U.S. cannabis business, like Canada, will stand on guard as cannabis takes its
shape into the enclave of cyberspace malls throughout E-commerce platforms as cannabis consumers shop to their hearts’ content for their favorite cannabis delight.

BANKING SOLUTIONS AND E-COMMERCE - Like any other industry, E-commerce will play a vital role in legitimate cannabis businesses. Although
potentially lucrative, cannabis businesses engaging in E-commerce face insurmountable challenges due to prohibitive federal regulations on banking and cannabis. Banking rules and regulations are prescribed by federal government and as a result, cannabis businesses are stymied in its banking and payment processes, which are an intrinsic part of any business including cannabis. Considering prohibitive federal laws, cannabis entrepreneurs are forced to turn to alternative options to solve their payment processing dilemma. Some cannabis businesses engage the services of electronic payment hubs using smart
devices. Some encourage customers to create pre-enrolled cash deposit accounts which would enable customers to make payments for cannabis products on their Internet market place. Regardless of the payment processing option, these alternative payment solutions can provide useful marketing information. For instance, once these payment solutions are used by the consumers, important data  can be yielded and used to predict marketing and advertising strategies, business projections, and consumer demand and retention among other business analytics.

E-COMMERCE AND CANNABIS DELIVERY SERVICES - A beneficial symbiotic relationship exists between the cannabis consumer and cannabis businesses
engaged in delivering products to the consumer. Yet the transportation and delivery of cannabis products present another problematic area for cannabis businesses engaged in E-commerce. As a federally banned product, the delivery of cannabis is prohibited throughout the U.S. postal service. Consequently, ancillary delivery businesses have begun to pop up to provide delivery services to consumers. Fortunately, some California cannabis businesses are at the forefront of utilizing Uber-like delivery services like those used in Canada. Through E-commerce platforms, customers may purchase their product while a delivery staff delivers the product to the customer. On one hand, the consumer gets his or her product delivered unencumbered, and on the other hand, the cannabis business entrepreneur gets vital marketing information that could be used to target sales based on consumer demands for cannabis products.

E-COMMERCE AND THE CANNABIS TREND TODAY - Although the cannabis industry is making leaps and bounds in the economic marketplace, very few E-
commerce sites presently exist in cyberspace. As the industry expands and matures, there’s an inevitable shift in the cannabis space into an E-commerce marketplace. In fact, as cannabis businesses begin to wander into this new E-marketplace, they will be in an advantageous position to compete, and at the same time, harvest important marketing information that would position their company for economic growth. Undoubtedly, there will be a shift, and E-commerce will be the standard marketplace for cannabis consumers in the future.  

The article was by Ann Marie James, Esq.; Contributing Editors Ayanna Rutherford; Lyle A. Bogorad, Esq.
Contact Lyle A. Bogorad at lyle@chromaticlouds.com, 917-678-1273.


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