Kristina Etter   |   September 29, 2022

Full Disclosure: Data Transparency and Cannabis Smartphone Apps

The shift toward cannabis transparency has begun, but how long will it take for consumers to trust the data grab?
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

Today, cannabis consumers are stepping out of the shadows and claiming their rightful place in the sun. No longer does a shroud of illegality force people to hide or be ashamed of their cannabis use. In fact, cannabis has almost become the rallying cry for liberty and freedom in many countries all around the world.

However, for many people, especially those who remember the persecution from the 60s and 70s, disclosing their cannabis use is unnerving. The Boomers and GenX generations had decades of reefer madness and just say no. Those who were involved in the legacy industry were forced underground and learned very quickly that records, data, and numbers were things that could easily change a misdemeanor into a felony.

Those stigmas, stereotypes, and risks make it easy to understand why many consumers and growers may be a bit uneasy about data-tracking apps in the cannabis space. But as the industry grows, the science advances, and our knowledge of cannabis increases, visionaries are using data trackers to help consumers find the products they want while providing valuable market insights for the commercial industry, too.

Apple Drug Interactions & Medication Trackers

Tech giant, Apple, loosened its restrictions on cannabis-focused apps last year, and based on recent headlines, they are continuing to integrate functionality for cannabis consumers.

The most recent update to the system software to iOS 16 also included updates to the Apple Health app, which allows users to disclose their alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco to their Medications tracker. This functionality is intended to help consumers know if these substances could interact with other medications.

While the safety profile of cannabis is evolving, science has revealed that CBD, or cannabidiol, can act as a competitive inhibitor and may impact the efficacy of other pharmaceuticals and drugs. Those who depend on pharmaceutical drugs for life-saving measures must be acutely aware of this fact, and the Apple Medications feature in the Health app is designed to help patients gain this kind of awareness.

Other Apps that Track Personal Cannabis Data

While Apple’s Medication tracker is designed to bring consumers awareness, other smartphone apps allow consumers to do more with their data.

Releaf

The Releaf app entered the cannabis industry in 2016 as a tracker to help consumers learn what cannabis products, strains, and consumption methods work for their needs. The app allows users to track each cannabis consumption session in detail.

On the backend, the data consumers input is being analyzed by researchers at the University of New Mexico to better understand how patients and recreational consumers use cannabis and what effects they achieve.

In 2018, during an interview with Cannabis Tech, Dr. Jacob Vigil, Director, Investigator, and Associate Professor of Psychology at UNM, stated, “We can replicate a clinical trial under more appropriate circumstances given the caveats that cannabis brings.”

Since then, using advanced statistical analysis of the data collected, their team has been able to publish a number of findings. Here’s a sampling of a few of the reports just within the last couple of years:

Jointly

Similar in nature to Releaf, the Jointly app collects consumer data and helps provide product matches to help the buyer find the products that are best suited to their needs. Fighting age-old cannabis stereotypes, their website proudly states, “We believe that cannabis makes us more, not less.”

And based on the data they are collecting, they are ready to double down on that theory.

Today at 3 pm EST, David Kooi, CEO & Co-Founder, is presenting in partnership with New Frontier Data about “Intentional Cannabis Consumption.”

The webinar announcement quotes Kooi, who stated, "The overarching theme in the data is that cannabis consumption is intentional and purposeful. While age, gender, and desired experience all play a role in determining cannabis product preference, the modern cannabis consumer is seeking out specific effects...Tailoring a product to those effects and experiences can help create a meaningful connection between a brand and a consumer.”

Education Changes Everything

As legalization continues to creep across the nation, studies report that the pharmaceutical industry is losing billions as each new state on-boards cannabis. This phenomenon only adds to the mounting evidence of the plant's medical efficacy. But clinical data and studies will sway the medical community – and that day is coming.

While data may be lingering and answers a bit murky, one thing is certain – education changes everything. The more consumers are willing to share their experiences, both good and bad, our overall understanding of the possibilities and the limitations of the herb are being uncovered.

 

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