Just in in time for 4-20: A ‘Shopify’ for cannabis

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

It’s that time of year. Thursday is April 20. 4-20, 4/20, 4:20 or just 420. It’s the day of the year many call the “stoner Christmas.” No one really knows where this day and time to celebrate pot came from (Herb.com traces it back to a bunch of high school stoners in the ’70’s who called themselves “Waldo’s). But that’s not important. What’s important is that millions of pot-smokers will be celebrating this Thursday, and the multi-billion-dollar cannabis industry stands to profit.

So naturally, it’s a great time to introduce an online shopping application for cannabis businesses. That’s what the entrepreneurs at Baker Technologies, a three-year old marketing start-up are doing.

It’s called Shop and it’s pretty much like the uber-popular e-commerce application Shopify. Except that this application is geared for the growing number of pot shops and dispensaries in the 34 states that now allow either recreational or medicinal use of marijuana.

The Denver-based company wants to cut down on the time it takes customers to research, buy and receive their marijuana products. It also wants to make it easier for merchants to deal with inventory, sales and product management while streamlining the process for pickup and deliveries and, according to this report in Fast Company, help with “a uniform e-commerce system for legal weed (that navigates) the confusing patchwork of state and local regulations that govern the sale and distribution of cannabis—some of which seem to be changing every day.”

David Champion, Baker’s co-founder and chief product officer told Fast Company that “a lot of tailoring and customization” of their platform was needed “so that the dispensary can go in and set their preferences—the language, the imagery, the branding—in accordance with their state rules,”

It’s a still a risky investment for Shop’s backers, who have plowed more than $3.5 million into the company to date. The Trump administration has been making noises that it intends to enforce national laws on the sale and possession of marijuana, which is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Regardless, many analysts believe that pot could be legalized in all 50 states within the next five to seven years and that this momentum would force a change in federal regulations. Which is why other start-ups, like Meadow and Eaze, are also introducing their own competitive ecommerce apps to go head-to-head against Shop.

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