It's often said that during the California gold rush, the entrepreneurs selling picks and shovels to the miners made out better than the miners themselves. There’s a similar phenomenon with the legalization of marijuana. While there’s certainly money to be made by growing, processing and selling weed, there are also opportunities for technology companies that don’t “touch the plant.” In general, these companies are less likely to attract unwanted attention from law enforcement. As the world’s largest marijuana market, Southern California has become a hub to a wide variety of these cannatech ancillary businesses.
Here are a few notable cannatech products based in the Southland.
Irvine-based Weedmaps, a dispensary finder sometimes described as the Yelp of cannabis, is among the biggest and best-known companies in cannatech. With dispensary advertising restricted in many states, some dispensaries consider a paid home on Weedmaps essential for attracting customers. In addition to a presence in most legal states, Weedmaps listings are available in Spain, Canada and Germany.
Reefer’s service enables dispensaries to keep in touch with customers by text message and accumulate points toward free weed. A cute video on the company site shows how points can be shared among friends. Started in L.A., the company has dispensary customers in California and plans to expand to Oregon and Colorado in September.
Based in Canoga Park, California LightWorks makes high-end LED lighting systems for pot growers. Growers tend to have strong feelings about their light sources. LEDs are more energy-efficient and cooler than High Intensity Discharge (HID), metal halide and other options. LEDs also can cost more upfront. CLW says its lights have adjustable light spectrum outputs to maximize each phase of growing.
Cloud Pen isn’t the most revered name in the crowded vaporizer market, but the brand’s Paragon vape gets strong ratings from High Times for its solid construction, discrete appearance and ability to deliver “super hits.” Cloud Pen is based in Orange County.
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YoBuddy is an iPhone app combining a Weedmaps-like functionality for finding legal weed with a social function for finding fellow herb-o-philes in a “non-sketchy” way. Entrepreneur Mike Williams said it was inspired by living in Venice, where he “saw the misconceptions within the social realm of smoking and also a lack of legitimacy when it came to accessing doctors and dispensaries.” He sold his previous app, YoRoomie, on eBay.
YoBuddy is now owned by the Hawa Group LLC.
Correction: This story previously said Weedmaps has a presence in Australia rather than Spain. It also failed to note that YoBuddy is now owned by the Hawa Group. We regret the errors.