A three-year-old startup Baker Technologies created an e-commerce platform to meet the needs of dispensaries and ease some difficult points of the legal weed industry.

As we know, the legal-marijuana industry is growing fast, so Baker Technologies is aimed to bring order and uniformity to this business. This three-year-old marijuana-marketing startup is one of the companies (such as delivery services like Meadow and Eaze), which were able to raise capital over the last few years in this industry.

Now Baker is going to expand its boundaries with an e-commerce platform called Shop, which for them is a kind of “Shopify for cannabis”. This platform’s purpose is to meet the needs of the marijuana industry, especially those of dispensaries. It lets the establishments of the industry set up online storefronts, check the lists of what they have in stock, track the sales, and streamline their process for pickups and deliveries.

Baker’s co-founder and chief product officer David Champion says that the idea of this project began in 2014 when the weed became legal in Colorado. So local dispensaries quickly filled up with a lot of curious tourists who would spend a lot of time poking around and asking questions, but not necessarily buying much of the stuff.  Eventually, lags led to extra wait times which would impede sales and frustrate regular customers as they needed to stay in line for a long time. Customers would drive a half hour to the dispensary to come there to stay in a line for another half an hour and finally to realize that the product they wanted and needed wasn’t in stock.

Nowadays, when the initial curiosity around legal weed has worn off, long lines at dispensaries may not be an unrestrained problem.  But, according to Champion, it doesn’t mean that dispensaries don’t need to simplify the process of buying pot. And the consumer-facing websites can do it as they allow customers to shop for products, see whether the necessary thing is in stock and even arrange for deliveries where permitted. Baker launched a prototype for Shop with a few dispensaries in Colorado and has been quietly inviting new ones to use it. Also, the platform is now live in 12 states and in British Columbia, supporting both medical and recreational jurisdictions, and the official Shop announcement was on 04.14.2017.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to put the Shop in place as creating a uniform e-commerce system for legal weed can face some difficulties, such as state and local regulations that govern the sale and distribution of the weed, also some of them are changing every day. For example, in some states it is impossible to deliver marijuana, and in comparison, in others it is permissible, such as in California. In addition, there are some restrictions on how dispensaries may display the product. It was difficult for Baker to handle all of these issues as they needed to create a flexible infrastructure, which will be able to meet all these elements, including age gates, ID medical card checks and weight limits. Moreover, they have a team of compliance experts, who help dispensaries make sure that their storefronts are operating honestly. So Baker made it possible for dispensaries (since they started in 2014, Baker found over 250 of them to work with) to customize the platform in accordance with their state rules.

The legal marijuana industry, for all its attempts at maturity, still faces a lot of difficulties, including the recent tough talk from the Trump administration. Even after the legalization of the drug in many states, it still remains a Schedule 1 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Although, there is an optimistic fact for all the fans of cannabis: medical marijuana is now legal in 26 states, and its recreational smoking is legal in 8. And despite White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s rhetoric that we could see stepped-up enforcement of federal laws against recreational pot use, some analysts predict weed could be legal in all 50 states by 2021, so that gives pot-focused startups like Baker more opportunities to develop their businesses.

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