Market Trends

Trailblazers: 4 Ways Tech Dominated Cannabis Legalization in 2018

Even though New Year’s Eve is still a couple of weeks away, I think it’s safe to say that cannabis legalization in Canada was the biggest news story of the year. In fact, a quick search reveals that over 200,000 news articles were written on the subject.

For many consumers, legalization day (also known as October 17th) felt like it would never arrive. But for those working in the industry, it was both a day for celebration and a looming deadline to get things right.

One of the day’s biggest successes was Shopify’s smooth, outage-free rollout for online sales of legal cannabis in four provinces, including Ontario.

According to the e-commerce company, they saw about 100 transactions per minute across Canada — on the first day alone.

But Shopify wasn’t the only major cannabis player this year. Startups of all strains came out of the woodwork, seeing untapped opportunity in the brave new world of weed.

Here are four ways the tech ecosystem dominated cannabis legalization this year — and will likely dominate 2019.


Online Media — HERB

Although it was founded over ten years ago, online cannabis publication HERB really came into its own in 2015 when it was acquired and rebranded by Toronto entrepreneur Matt Gray. Since then, the company has set its sights on global cannabis domination.

The publication keeps readers up-to-date with industry news, video series ranging from comedic cannabis sketches to how-to (roll a joint) videos, and reviews of every strain under the sun.



According to the Herb site, “Our vibrant and growing community of 16 million herbivores are a living example that the stigma is disappearing faster than the smoke from the tips of our joints.”

Last year HERB expanded into New York and Los Angeles, but with cannabis legalization on the horizon in Canada, the company chose Toronto as its headquarters.

Clearly legalization has sparked even more growth for the company — recently, HERB moved out of its workspace in OneEleven and set up shop at a larger downtown office. (Full disclosure, HERB was Hockeystick's neighbour at OneEleven.)


Genetics Testing — Lobo Genetics

We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who has had a bad reaction to pot. And until now, the only way to know for sure what type of reaction you might have is by trial and error.

Lobo Genetics is aiming to take the guesswork out of cannabis. CEO John Lem took the technology behind his DNA testing company Spartan Bioscience and applied it to cannabis.




The genetic testing device or “Cube” fits in the palm in your hand and uses cells from a swab inside the cheek. It measures a person’s ability to metabolize THC and CBD (the main psychoactive elements in cannabis) and determines what kind of long-term and short-term effects they might have.

Not only has the Cube garnered interest from health care practitioners and medical marijuana users, it’s also become a hot topic amongst recreational cannabis users.

Currently Lobo sells the device directly to consumers with a goal of eventually getting it into hospitals and clinics.


Explore CannabisTech companies on Hockeystick's open database.


Seed-to-Sale Software — Ample Organics

Just because recreational weed is legal, that doesn’t mean it isn’t subject to government regulation. Cannabis cultivators, producers and vendors must follow the rules if they want to play the game. And that’s where Ample Organics comes in.

Founded in 2014, the platform is currently used by the majority of licensed producers in Canada and is a complete ecosystem for cannabis businesses — including a patient database and e-commerce storefront.



Ample Organics uses a barcode system to track the growth and development of each individual plant, reducing the chances for errors and creating a digital record for production and processing.

With the demand for weed only increasing, Ample will be at the forefront of making sure cannabis gets safely and legally into the hands of consumers.


Cannabis Accelerator — Leaf Forward

With the flurry of startups hoping to make it big in the cannabis industry, it’s no surprise someone came along to make sure the best and brightest have optimal growing conditions.

Leaf Forward is Canada’s first and leading cannabis business accelerator. Officially launched in January by entrepreneurs Alex Blumenstein, Brett Chang and Taylor Scollon, the Toronto-based accelerator helps early-stage cannabis companies scale through mentorship, access to a licensed space and connection to capital.



Along with its 3-month Leaf Forward accelerator program, the company also holds 4-day intensive training sessions for entrepreneurs looking to get into the world of cannabis, as well as hosting meetups for the cannabis industry in cities across the country.

Because every plant needs sunlight and water, right?




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